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UK Budget 2011: £100m for science centres

The UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced extra funding of £100m to finance four science research centres as part of the coalition government's 2011 budget

The UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has announced extra funding of £100m to finance four science research centres as part of the coalition government's 2011 budget.

The money is part of 'growth' plans outlined in the budget, which aim to encourage development in the private sector to drive the nation's economy.

Facilities to be developed include the Norwich Research Park and the Babraham Research Campus in Cambridge.  The Campaign for Science & Engineering in the UK (CASE) has further information on the centres to receive funding.

The announcement follows recent news of site closures in the UK from both Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as workforce cutbacks by Novartis.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: "This new investment recognises the value of our excellent research base and proves the UK science industry is very much open for business. The extra spending will help drive innovation and growth and reflects our commitment to cutting-edge research."

Other initiatives related to the life sciences industry include a commitment of £20m over the next two years to the Small Business Research Initiative, which includes £10m from the Department of Health on specific competitions to address healthcare challenges.

A new health research regulatory agency will also be formed following the recommendations of the UK's Academy of Medical Science. It is hoped the body will streamline regulation around health research and improve the cost-effectiveness of clinical trials.

Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, who chaired the Academy working group that provided the recommendations, said: "Addressing the current bottleneck in obtaining NHS R&D permission will be crucial to delivering new treatments to patients.

"Streamlining how the providers of NHS services approve research should be the highest priority and linking future NIHR (National Institute for Health Research) funding to a faster approval process is a welcome step in improving performance."

Other key points in the budget include a reduction in the main rate of corporation tax by an extra one per cent from previous plans, with the rate to fall to 26 per cent from April 2011. Further yearly reductions of one per cent will follow until 2014.

The rate of R&D tax credits for small and medium-sized enterprises will increase from 175 per cent to 225 per cent by April 2011.

Nigel Gaymond, chief executive of the UK's industry body, the BioIndustry Association, said: "R&D tax credits are the lifeblood of the R&D intensive bioscience sector, and BIA has maintained a sustained campaign on this issue for many years.

"The extension of this relief will be enthusiastically welcomed by companies in our sector. In addition, many of the other measures outlined today demonstrate this government's commitment to putting life sciences at the heart of the UK's recovery."

HM Treasury has further details on the budget.

23rd March 2011

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