The ARIA project

In March 2021, the UK government issued a policy statement with the rationale and intended purpose for the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA). ARIA was created
as a complement to the work of UKRI and is also intended

to assist in the building on the government’s R&D Roadmap, published in July 2020.

ARIA at its inception was broadly welcomed by senior figures in the UK’s scientific establishment, although some called for a clearer remit and direction for the agency, partly due to the fact that ARIA is exempt from “freedom of Information” requests. ARIA’s initial budget was £800 million which would be used to fund projects over a period of four years.

ARIA is intended to diversify the R&D portfolio in a way which will place the UK at the epicentre of a new generation of transformational technologies. It is hoped this will establish a competitive advantage for the UK as a global science superpower, creating meaningful jobs and economic growth for generations to come.

Recently the Council for the Mathematical Sciences CMS, in conjunction with the Virtual Forum for Knowledge Exchange in Mathematical Sciences V-KEMS organised a series of events to enable the UK Mathematical Sciences to find out more about the ARIA concept, how to get involved, shape and influence future programmes.

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Philip Bond, FREng

These events stimulated considerable interest in the mathematical sciences community. They have served to emphasise that, many of the most difficult scientific and computational problems faced today, could benefit from deep mathematical examination and the participation of mathematicians in interdisciplinary teams.

ARIA Structure

In essence, ARIA has a similar remit to that of its US equivalent, ACMP (Applied and Computational Mathematics Program) which offers support for multidisciplinary mathematical research in areas of interest to science and defence. Britain’s ARIA’s remit will be much wider though, insomuch as it also offers support for civilian projects.

ARIA will fund “high-risk, high-reward” research and will be associated with multiple government departments, but most closely with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

Put in an organisational perspective, ARIA is small and independent of UKRI but it has the autonomy to operate at speed and innovate funding inducements around research goals.

ARIA and the UK Mathematical Sciences panel discussion event on 6th May 2022 organised by CMS, focussed on issues raised during a presentation in March 2022, by Philip Bond, FREng, at which he said, “We should do challenges for Robotics and AI, they should run along the lines of DARPA, albeit with a more civilian focus. DARPA challenges have several key features; effective problem definition, outstanding program and management, and demanding timescales while open to a wide range of entrants including SME’s. A culture which encourages collaboration and creativity and also embraces the concept of failure and arrangements for participants to access high-quality equipment facilities... we should exploit the experience noting that another ingredient to successful challenges is their ability to spark the public imagination”.

The Times, in August 2021, published a list of the 23 mathematical challenges of our time that ARIA along with the mathematical sciences could help to solve. You can read the Times list at: