An article from across the pond, this time, where they have many of the same problems as in the UK. Prof. Steve Quake from Stanford University writes in the NY Times about how funding by committee tends to squeeze out some of the more adventurous ideas. The comment on a rejected proposal of “typically bold, but wildly ambitious”, or variants thereof, is probably familiar to many scientists currently seeking funding.
One difference between the US and the UK is that there is a chance that the US - seeing the success of the NIH special awards that Quake refers to in his article - may be creating more opportunities for bold and wildly ambitious research. The UK, however, continues to give the impression of going the other way, with research funding increasingly linked to immediate gains for industry.