British scientists are not used to hearing about large increases in national research spending. So when Prime Minister Theresa May promised on 21 November that her government would invest an extra £2 billion (US$2.5 billion) per year in research and development (R&D) by 2020, scientists gave the speech a cautious welcome.
But the funding hike seems to be no financial sleight of hand, according to UK Treasury documents released on 23 November after Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond gave an address on the nation’s finances. The government is expecting to spend an extra £4.7 billion on R&D between now and 2020–21, it says, and the final year’s £2-billion boost will represent a rise of around 20% in total government R&D spending.
“It seems that this is genuinely new money, which is fantastic news,” says James Wilsdon, who studies research policy at the University of Sheffield, UK.
Still, it remains unclear how the …