The December 2019 Queen’s Speech set out the Government’s intention for:
a new approach to funding emerging fields of research and technology. It will provide long term funding to support visionary high-risk, high-pay off scientific, engineering, and technology ideas
The October 2019 Queen’s Speech briefing note explained that this would be “broadly modelled” on the US ARPA. The US Government’s ‘Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’ (DARPA), which evolved from ARPA, employs ‘programme managers’ on 3–5 year contracts to fund high‑risk, high‑reward research. Its budget in financial year 2019–20 was approximately £2.65bn.
The March 2020 Budget stated that the Government would “invest at least £800 million” in this “blue skies” funding agency, which would fund “high risk, high reward science”.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee will inquire formally into the nature and purpose of this new UK research funding agency.