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A High-Reaching ARIA

The UK is to launch its new "high-risk" science agency in the mold of the US Advanced Research Projects Agency, BBC News reports.

The UK proposed the new agency last March as part of its 2020 budget package, and has authorized £800 million (US$1 billion) in funding over four years for it. The new Advanced Research and Invention Agency, or ARIA, is to fund "ground-breaking" projects and have a higher tolerance for failure, according to the BBC. It notes, though, that the amount of funding being allocated to ARIA is much less than that provided to other government research programs.

"Led independently by our most exceptional scientists, this new agency will focus on identifying and funding the most cutting-edge research and technology at speed," Kwasi Kwarteng, the UK business secretary says, according to the BBC.

The BBC adds that the Labour Party has called for a better explanation of what the agency will pursue. "Labour has long called for investment in high-ambition, high-risk science," Ed Miliband, Labour shadow business secretary says, according to the BBC. "But government must urgently clarify the mission and mandate of this new organisation, following strong engagement with the UK's science base — those closest to the work."