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Julian Sturdy - Strong Voice for York Outer

Julian Sturdy

Member of Parliament for York Outer

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Julian presses government for fairer science funding to support growth in Yorkshire

March 3, 2020

This morning in the House of Commons, Julian pressed the Business Secretary to ensure that the government’s planned big increase in R and D (research and development) funding will mean a fairer share for regions like Yorkshire.

Research, development and innovation is vital to creating new technologies and products, and the economic growth and new jobs they bring.

During questions to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma, in the House of Commons, Julian asked:

“Given nearly 50% of the core science budget currently goes to just 3 cities in southern England, can the Minister assure me that the increase in R and D funding will do more to favour the regions outside of the south, so that research and innovation both in my city of York and other regional hubs across Yorkshire like Leeds and Hull will get their fair share going forward?”

Responding for the government, the Business Secretary thanked Julian, saying:

“I know he is hugely supportive of R and D himself – he opened the Institute of Technology at York College last month. I absolutely agree that as part of our ‘levelling-up’ agenda, we want to support centres of excellence from across the country, and I know that UKRI [UK Research and Innovation, the national science funding body] awarded £24 million to the University of York for a quantum communications hub in December last year, and of course we will be setting out our ambitious place strategy for R and D in the second half of this year.”

After leaving the House of Commons, Julian said:

“The government’s election commitment to double R and D funding to £18 billion by 2024 is very welcome, but it is also vital that this cash boost rebalances current support in favour of regions like Yorkshire, so all parts of the country can benefit from the increased prosperity and future employment this will create.

Currently, some 46% of core science funding is spent in just 3 cities – London, Oxford and Cambridge, even though we have excellent research and innovation work being undertaken in York, as well as Leeds and Hull, which needs its fair share of support if our city and region is to reach its full potential.

I was significantly reassured by the Secretary of State’s answer, which showed that he knows about and wants to support the serious innovation work ongoing in York, and the city’s new Institute of Technology for young people. This work includes not only the development of secure communication technology which he mentioned, but also research into vaccines for rare conditions like visceral leishmaniasis, and at the University’s cryo-EM Facility which will yield vital new drugs in future years.

This cutting-edge research and innovation offers huge opportunities to our region, and I will continue to press government so we can secure a high employment, high-skill economy for York into the future. I will watch carefully for when the regional R and D funding plans the Business Secretary mentioned are set out later this year.”