How we're working

There is no formula for breakthroughs. You can’t get them from simply following the instructions on a box. Breakthroughs come from curiosity and determination. From failure and iteration. They take moving with conviction toward targets that are barely visible through the fog of uncertainty.

We believe that people drive innovation. Their creativity and intrinsic motivation are the biggest assets we have.

That starts with Programme Directors, who are tasked with defining an opportunity space – an area we believe is likely to yield breakthroughs. An ARIA opportunity space must be:

  • Important if true (i.e. it could lead to a significant new capability for society)
  • Under-explored relative to its potential impact
  • Ripe for new talent, perspectives, or resources to change what’s possible.

Each opportunity space will inform one or more ambitious R&D programmes that direct funding toward a focused objective, alongside more exploratory seed projects.

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The first job of an ARIA Programme Director is to define an opportunity space – an area that we believe is likely to yield breakthroughs.

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Within an opportunity space, Programme Directors will formulate one or more programmes that direct funding across research disciplines and institutions toward a focused objective.

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Within each programme, Programme Directors select and fund a portfolio of R&D projects, whose aim is to unlock breakthroughs and advance the programme’s impact on society.

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Aligned to the broader opportunity space, Programme Directors can award seed funding to support individuals or teams pursuing ambitious research that otherwise might fall through the cracks.

Our integrated activity will lead not only to technical breakthroughs, but also to new communities of practice, institutional capacity, and capital inflows – all of which are essential for large-scale transformation.


Our programmes are designed to advance complex, large-scale ideas which require coordinated investment and management across disciplines and institutions. To build a programme, each Programme Director directs the review, selection, and funding of a portfolio of projects, whose collective aim is to unlock breakthroughs that advance their impact on society. 

We publish our progress and solicit feedback throughout the development process, from defining an opportunity space and honing a core thesis, to finding and funding researchers from all corners of the R&D ecosystem who can turn that thesis into reality.

Opportunity seeds

Outside of programmes, ARIA Programme Directors can award seed funding to support ambitious research aligned to the opportunity spaces they’ve identified. With smaller budgets and less structure than programmes, opportunity seeds support individual research teams to uncover new pathways that could inspire future programmes or might justify additional support as a standalone project.

Opportunity seeds are the first of several funding vehicles we’re developing outside of programme funding. Our product team has been designed to both optimise our offerings and test new modes of impact for effectiveness and scalability.

Activation Partners

Scientific breakthroughs alone won’t lead to impact – this is why we’re embedding science entrepreneurship into all that we do. Activation Partners play a key part of this approach, helping to catalyse entrepreneurial talent and venture creation across our opportunity spaces.

These partners will work with us to unlock latent ideas, empower talent, support new ventures, and provide insights and connectivity across our opportunity spaces. They’ll help us foster a culture of innovation that propels our opportunity spaces, and therefore the UK, towards massive social and economic impact.