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Scientific Research

Volume 534: debated on Thursday 27 October 2011

12. How much capital expenditure for scientific research his Department has allocated in 2011-12 to date. (76865)

I have recently announced that the Department will be investing an additional £145 million in high-performance computing. That brings the Department’s total capital spend in science and research to £793 million for 2011-12.

I thank the Minister for that reply. Britain has always been great at discovering and inventing things, but we need to address how to commercialise some of that cutting-edge research. Will he therefore comment on what the Government are doing to ensure that we bring that research, and those discoveries and inventions, to market in the future?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and that is why we are setting up the network of six technology and innovation centres. It is why we are particularly backing the campuses in Norwich, Babraham, Harwell and Daresbury, which bring together scientific research and business applications. It was also the reason for the investment of £50 million in the application of graphene to business purposes, which was announced only a few weeks ago.

Does the Minister recognise the deep concern in our universities at the cutting back of their capital programme, in contrast with what is happening in other countries, which will put us at a significant competitive disadvantage?

The figure that I just gave the House for capital spending on science and research is comparable with the figures for capital spending under the ring-fenced science budget under the previous Government. So, even in tough times, we are absolutely maintaining our commitment to investing in science.