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Aria’s independence is ‘signed in blood’, says Beis official

Officials are “trying to protect” new agency from themselves, says business department’s Sarah Hodgetts

A top civil servant at the head of plans for a new ‘high-risk, high-reward’ funder has said ministers in Westminster and all the devolved governments have “signed in blood” to protect the independence of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency from government interference.

On 24 February, legislation to create Aria received royal assent. Earlier in the month, Peter Highnam was announced as the agency’s chief executive, starting in May. Highnam was previously deputy director of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), on which Aria is broadly modelled.

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