08/10/2012 16:59 BST

Universities Receive £200m Extra Government Funding For Scientific Resarch

Universities and business groups have welcomed £200 million of extra government funding for scientific research.

But they also urged the coalition to "step up to the plate" by investing more over the long term.

Chancellor George Osborne unveiled the boost during his speech to Tory conference in Birmingham.

The cash will triple the Research Partnership Investment Fund to £300 million, which supports university capital projects and has been heavily over-subscribed since its launch in the Budget.

Universities bidding for the cash must deliver at least double the public funding through contributions from industry or charity, producing a total £1 billion in additional money for science.

CBI director-general John Cridland said: "Some of this country's most innovative new products are developed through university-business collaborations. So this extra government funding for R&D (research and development) collaboration could make a real difference.

"Being at the cutting edge of R&D can help boost exports, attract investment to the UK and drive growth."

The Russell Group of top universities said the announcement is a "very welcome shot in the arm for UK science and industry, especially following recent cuts to capital funding".

Professor David Eastwood and Dr Wendy Piatt said: "It again demonstrates the strength of partnerships between our leading universities and our key businesses.

"The research which takes place in our world-class universities drives sustainable economic growth. But the first-rate infrastructure needed to facilitate the very best research and teaching cannot be bought on the cheap.

"It is important that today's further investment in research facilities and infrastructure is sustained in medium and long term so we can capture all of the benefits that come out of our first-class scientific research.

Professor Lesley Yellowlees, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said it is "good news for science".

She said: "(Mr Osborne) recognises that investment in research will help pull the UK out of this economic slump. But what scientists need now more than ever is long-term certainty, not just one-off contributions.

"At the last spending review the Government froze the science budget and cut capital spending by 40%. This extra £200 million for the Research Partnership Investment Fund only goes part of the way to making up for this deficit.

"With the next spending review looming, we call on the Conservatives to step up to the plate and help science deliver the results that will generate economic growth for Britain."