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Mood music

The government is singing the praises of R&D—for now

If Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement was music to the sector’s ears, it came in the form of a soft overture rather than a rousing anthem—despite his attempts to up the tempo by name-checking a chorus of famous scientists. Dispelling fears he would row back on R&D spending pledges to deal with the economic crisis, the chancellor said he understood cutting the research budget would be a “profound mistake”. The sector’s lobbyists may wish to note that one down for future reference.

The headline measures announced on 17 November—that the government will stick to its pledge to increase public investment in R&D to £20 billion by 2024-25 and will put in place a near-£500 million package to help deal with the damage caused by the ongoing hiatus on Horizon Europe membership—were, in the country’s current economic circumstances, pleasing to the ear. In particular, the decision to award a fifth of that £500m in the form of a quality-related funding uplift will help the money hit the ground quickly. 

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