The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s budget, with announcements covering research and development funding, infrastructure and investment to address climate change.

Responding to the Chancellor’s announcements, Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“We are deeply impressed with the government’s commitment to more than double UK public spending on R&D. It is vital to enhance spending on creative new ideas and catalysing innovation if our world-leading engineering research and enterprises are to reach their full potential and improve opportunities for all through economic and social development.

“High-risk innovation with flexible funding is an exciting and ambitious endeavour – this is what a UK ARPA should deliver. We have seen from the US ARPA example that it can succeed if it is well designed. Radical, out-of-the-box thinking, if properly funded and executed, could boost local economies, create new and sustainable jobs and address global challenges, while creating new opportunities to improve people’s lives in every part of the UK.

“Importantly, by increasing research spending itself the UK will not benefit from radical results.  Investment should also be made in turning research into real world solutions and successful businesses, which should be valued just as much as the publication of excellent papers and winning of Nobel prizes. Successful radical innovation with tangible economic benefits will depend on close collaboration between academia and industry.

The Chancellor also announced a £640 billion investment in infrastructure, and measures to help meet the UK’s climate change targets. Commenting on these the Academy’s President added:

“Boosting public spending on roads, rail, broadband and flood defences is also welcome – well-costed resilient infrastructure projects will benefit people, businesses and the environment and will impact our lives for decades to come. Local areas must be involved in these projects because they have the insight to deliver integrated strategies for transport, employment and housing and to create thriving areas and communities.

 “Investment is essential to deliver on the UK’s ambitious climate change goals and the Chancellor has shown today that he is willing to spend to generate high-skill, low-emission jobs for the future. 75% of emissions reductions since 2012 have come from changes to electricity supply but bold action is now needed on heat and transport. We should support large-scale demonstrations for heat technologies such as district heat networks, heat pumps and heat recovery – 85% of UK households still rely on gas for heating.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering

As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – our Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.

We harness their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession. 

We have three strategic priorities:

  • Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
  • Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
  • Position engineering at the heart of society

We bring together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.

Engineering is a global profession, so we work with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 0207 766 0636; email: jane.sutton@raeng.org.uk