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Plan to forge a better Britain through science and technology unveiled

Plan to forge a better Britain through science and technology unveiled
  • Bold plan to grow the UK economy, create high-paid jobs of the future, protect our security, and radically improve people’s lives through science, innovation and technology outlined
  • The plan will bring every part of Government together to meet one single goal: to cement the UK’s place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030
  • Backed by over £360 million in new government funding to boost infrastructure, investment and skills for the UK’s most exciting growing technologies, from quantum and supercomputing through to AI

The Prime Minister and Technology Secretary have today (Monday 6 March) launched the Government’s plan to cement the UK’s place as a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030, alongside a raft of new measures backed by over £360 million to boost investment in innovation, bring the world’s best talent to the UK, and seize the potential of ground-breaking new technologies like AI.

The new Science and Technology Framework is the first major piece of work from the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and will challenge every part of Government to better put the UK at the forefront of global science and technology this decade through 10 key actions – creating a coordinated cross-government approach. 

In doing so, the Government will foster the right conditions for industry innovation and world leading scientific research to deliver high-paid jobs of the future, grow the economy in cutting-edge industries, and improve people’s lives from better healthcare to security.

The ten points of the new Science and Technology Framework centre on:

  • Identifying, pursuing and achieving strategic advantage in the technologies that are most critical to achieving UK objectives.
  • Showcasing the UK’s S&T strengths and ambitions at home and abroad to attract talent, investment and boost our global influence
  • Boosting private and public investment in research and development for economic growth and better productivity
  • Building on the UK’s already enviable talent and skills base
  • Financing innovative science and technology start-ups and companies
  • Capitalising on the UK Government’s buying power to boost innovation and growth through public sector procurement
  • Shaping the global science and tech landscape through strategic international engagement, diplomacy and partnerships
  • Ensuring researchers have access to the best physical and digital infrastructure for R&D that attracts talent, investment and discoveries
  • Leveraging post-Brexit freedoms to create world-leading pro-innovation regulation and influence global technical standards
  • Creating a pro-innovation culture throughout the UK’s public sector to improve the way our public services run

The delivery of this new Framework will begin immediately with an initial raft of projects, worth around £500 million in new and existing funding, which will help ensure the UK has the skills and infrastructure to take a global lead in game-changing technologies.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“Trailblazing science and innovation have been in our DNA for decades. But in an increasingly competitive world, we can only stay ahead with focus, dynamism and leadership.

“That’s why we’re setting out 10 key actions under a bold new plan to cement our place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030 – from pursuing transformational technologies like AI and supercomputing to attracting top talent and ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed.

“The more we innovate, the more we can grow our economy, create the high-paid jobs of the future, protect our security, and improve lives across the country.”

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:

“Innovation and technology are our future. They hold the keys to everything from raising productivity and wages, to transforming healthcare, reducing energy prices and ultimately creating jobs and economic growth in the UK, providing the financial firepower allowing us to spend more on public services.  

“That is why, today, we are putting the full might of the British government and our private sector partners behind our push to become a scientific and technological superpower, because only through being world-leaders in future industries like AI and quantum will we be able to improve the lives of every Briton.”

The initial package of projects to drive forward the actions of the Science and Technology Framework includes:

  • £250 million investment in three truly transformational technologies to build on the UK’s global leadership in AI, quantum technologies and engineering biology, so they can help a range of industries tackle the biggest global challenges like climate change and health care. This forms part of our commitment to the five technologies within the science and technology framework, which also includes semiconductors and future telecoms.
  • Publication of Sir Paul Nurse’s Independent Review of the Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape with recommendations to make the most of the UK’s research organisations, ensuring they are effective, sustainable and responsive to global challenges.
  • Up to £50 million to spur co-investment in science from the private sector and philanthropists to drive the discoveries of the future, subject to business cases. For example, this could include working with a range of partners to increase investment in the world leading UK Biobank, to support the continued revolution in genetic science. The Government is already talking to Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, about additional support of up to $20m as part of this work.
  • £117 million of existing funding to create hundreds of new PhDs for AI researchers and £8 million to find the next generation of AI leaders around the world to do their research in the UK.
  • A £50 million uplift to World Class Labs funding to help research institutes and universities to improve facilities so UK researchers have access to the best labs and equipment they need to keep producing world-class science, opening up entirely new avenues for economic growth and job creation.
  • A £10 million uplift to the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund, totalling £50m, to boost the UK’s next tech and science start-ups who could be the next Apple, Google or Tesla.
  • Plans to set up an Exascale supercomputer facility – the most powerful compute capability which could solve problems as complex as nuclear fusion – as well as a programme to provide dedicated compute capacity for important AI research, as part of the response to the Future of Compute Review.
  • £9m in Government funding to support the establishment of a quantum computing research centre by PsiQuantum in Daresbury in the North-West.

The Framework has been designed in consultation with industry experts and academics, to help deliver stronger growth, better jobs, and bold discoveries to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. 

The plan will be a cross-Government endeavour led by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) to bring together responsibility for the UK’s world class research and innovation system with the five technologies of tomorrow – quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, future telecoms plus life sciences and green technologies, into one single department for the first time. 

Director of the Francis Crick Institute and Lead Reviewer of the Landscape Review, Paul Nurse said:

“It is absolutely right, as the Prime Minister has said, that the future of the UK depends upon research, science and technology. Only by being a leading science nation can the UK drive a sustainable economy, increased productivity and generate societal benefits such as improved healthcare and protecting the environment.

“The Government’s endorsement of this approach is to be fully supported. My Review of the research, development and innovation landscape makes a range of recommendations across the whole RDI endeavour, which if adopted together, provides a blueprint for Government to make the UK a genuine science superpower.”

Today the government is also announcing a further extension until 30 June 2023 of the financial guarantee provided to the UK’s Horizon Europe applicants so that eligible, successful bids for calls closing on or before this date continue to be guaranteed funding, supporting them to continue their important work in research and innovation.

Science, innovation and technology are the drivers of economic growth and productivity. More than half of the UK’s future labour productivity growth will come from adopting the best available technologies and the rest from ‘pushing the frontier’ of technology even further. Each £1 of public R&D investment leverages £2 of private R&D investment in the long run. 

Today’s announcements build on existing Government efforts to support science and technology. This includes setting up the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) to fund high-risk, high-reward R&D; investing £100 million in a pilot bringing together national and local partners in Glasgow, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands to accelerate their growth into major, globally competitive centres for research and innovation; and publishing the UK Digital Strategy committed to rolling out world-class digital infrastructure, unlocking the value of data to create growth, innovation and societal benefits across the UK and harnessing digital transformation to build a more inclusive, competitive and innovative digital economy.

The Government will be making further announcements shortly, including publication of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy.

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