UK Government Agency ARIA is formally established

1 February 2023 | Muriel Cozier

‘ARIA has been designed with a unique level of freedom which puts trust in the decisions of experts in their field […]’

The UK government’s Advanced Research Invention Agency (ARIA) has been formally established, some two years after the agency was first announced. Fashioned after the US’ Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); the new independent Agency, whose board members include Nobel Prize winning organic chemist and the James S McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University, Sir David MacMillan, is tasked with identifying and funding ‘transformational science and technology at speed.’

With £800 million in funding the government has said that ARIA will ‘help to cement the UK’s position as a global science superpower.’ UK Science Minister George Freeman said: ‘As the global race for science and technology leadership heats up, we are committed to going further to cement our position as a Science Superpower, which is why we have committed to a record £39.8 billion public R&D budget in the Spending Review, alongside the creation of ARIA.’

During February 2022, the government announced that ARIA would be led by the former Deputy Director of DARPA, Dr Peter Highnam. However, soon after this announcement, Highnam decided to withdraw from the position.

The role of ARIA CEO has been taken up by Dr Ilan Gur, founder of Activate, a US-based organisation that helps scientists launch start-ups to address climate change and other global challenges. Matt Clifford MBE is ARIA’s Chair, and Non-Executive Directors include the Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance and Dame Kate Bingham DBE, Managing Partner at SV Health Investors and former Chair of the UK Vaccine Task Force.

Dr Gur said; ‘I could not imagine a better board of directors to oversee ARIA’s formation. Guided by their experience and judgement, ARIA will make bold bets that leverage the strengths of the UK research system to drive world-changing breakthroughs.’

The government said that: ‘ARIA has been designed with a unique level of freedom which puts trust in the decisions of experts in their field and empowers them to quickly allocate funding in support of their ambitious vision.’

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