U.K. Secretary of State for International Development Priti Patel announced Wednesday an additional 357 million pounds ($437 million) toward researching deadly infectious diseases, and outlined the government’s to-do list, known as a “research review,” for research and innovation investments over the next four years.
In an address to participants in the annual Grand Challenges meeting in London, Patel also reaffirmed that DfID will continue to spend 3 percent of its annual budget on research, and introduced a first “research review” to lay out how the government’s total 390 million pound ($477 million) research and innovation investment will be spent over the next four years.
“Global Britain’s commitment to innovative research will mean we can act faster, reach more of the world’s poorest people and get the most out of every pound we spend on behalf of the U.K. taxpayer,” Patel told meeting attendees.
The 357 million pounds for research in infectious diseases will come from the Ross Fund, Patel said, a 1 billion pound global health fund introduced in the new aid strategy last year. The announcement sheds some long-awaited light on the new Ross Fund, a cross-government fund for work in the global health sector over the next four years. Until Wednesday, little was known about how the fund would be spent.
The 357 million pounds will aim to “develop 40 potential health products, resulting in five final products such as medicines, tests and insecticides to limit the threat of diseases,” according to a statement from DfID.
Patel said the new research review sets out four objectives for the U.K.’s investment in research and innovation over the next four years. The government will double spending into research and innovation for humanitarian responses; scale up research on combatting infectious diseases; increase investments in research on climate, energy and water; and triple research funding on education “to create more virtual classrooms for the millions of children with no safe route to school.”
Finally, the research review tasks DfID with developing research in previously neglected areas, namely migration, taxation, political accountability and human trafficking and child exploitation, according to a DfID briefing paper seen by Devex.
Still, worries remain about how DfID and government will maintain its international ties to research institutions after the U.K. leaves the EU. Asked how she envisions these relationships evolving after Brexit, Patel told attendees, “I think people are speculating about what life will be like, but certainly in terms of [our] place in the world, we’re leaders in R&D and investment,” she said.
“The partnerships we’ve built internationally, both private sector through foundations, and with country governments, that will absolutely continue.”