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Space spending to be increased by £60m a year

Spending on space technology has been increased by £60m per year over the subsequent two years, due to an investment by Chancellor George Osborne to augment the UK’s contribution to the European Space Agency.

It is hoped that the investment will bring numerous more hi-tech jobs and contracts to Britain, although the diminution in overall civil research spending is equivalent to 5% since 2010 and continues to decrease.

Osborne called for a national debate on how Britain can illustrate scientific excellence on a global scale. The investment with the Paris-based European Space Agency will result in a 30% growth in UK contributions to the organisation, whilst the majority of other countries are failing to maintain regular contributions.

Britain hopes to acquire more research contracts in return for this increase in contribution, which will in turn augment the competitiveness of British space companies in the large global market.

The UK space industry has experienced a total turnover of over £9.1bn in 2010/11, equal to an average annual growth rate of 7.5%. The recession has caused other sectors to dwindle yet science minister David Willetts was encouraged by this recent data to convince the Treasury to fund the space sector to incite additional development.

The investment will mean that the European Space Agency will expand its Oxfordshire technical centre, transforming it into its satellite telecommunications headquarters base.

Osborne also plans to further development in other sectors such as computing, synthetic biology, regenerative medicine, agricultural science, energy storage, robotics and advanced materials comprising nanotechnology. He argues that science is crucial in the recovery of the UK economy.

Imran Khan, director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (Case), said: “The commitment to new spending on scientific infrastructure is important, as part of the UK's push to be a modern, high-tech economy.”

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