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British government announces £360M plan to become science and technology superpower by 2030

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The Prime Minister and the Technology Secretary have today launched the Government’s plan to cement the UK’s place as a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030, along with a raft of new measures backed by over £360 million to boost investment in innovation, attract the world’s best talent to the UK, and take advantage of groundbreaking new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

As the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology’s first major piece of work, the Science and Technology Framework challenges all parts of Government to take 10 key actions to position the UK at the forefront of global science and technology this decade – a coordinated cross-government effort. 

As a result, the Government will foster an environment that encourages industry innovation and world-leading scientific research, leading to high-paying jobs in the future, growth in cutting-edge industries, and improvements to people’s lives. The ten points of the new Science and Technology Framework centre on:

  • Strategically identifying, pursuing, and achieving UK objectives through technologies.
  • To promote the UK’s S&T strengths and ambitions at home and abroad to attract talent and investment
  • Enhancing productivity and economic growth by increasing private and public investment in research and development
  • 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:

  • A £250 million investment in three truly transformative technologies to enhance the UK’s global leadership in AI, quantum technologies, and engineering biology, so they can help a range of industries tackle 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.
  • Sir Paul Nurse’s Independent Review of the Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape has been published, with recommendations for making the UK’s research organisations more effective, sustainable and responsive to global needs.
  • Funding of up to £50 million to spur co-investment in science from the private sector and philanthropists to drive future discoveries. 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.
  • A further £117 million of existing funding will be used to create hundreds of new PhDs for AI researchers, and £8 million will be used to find the next generation of AI leaders around the world to conduct their research in the UK.
  • With an increase of £50 million in World Class Labs funding, UK researchers will have access to the best labs and equipment they need to produce world-class research, leading to a boost in economic growth and job creation.
  • To boost the UK’s next tech and science startups, who could become the next Apple, Google or Tesla, the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund received a £10 million boost for a total of £50 million.
  • In response to the Future of Compute Review, plans have been made to set up an Exascale supercomputer facility, the most powerful computing capability that can solve complex problems such as nuclear fusion. Dedicated computing capacity will also be provided for important AI research.
  • Government funding of £9m will support PsiQuantum’s establishment of a quantum computing research center in Daresbury.

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.”

Economic growth and productivity are driven by science, innovation, and technology. Over half of the UK’s future labour productivity growth will come from adopting the best available technologies and the remainder from pushing technology 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.

Further announcements, including the publication of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy, will follow shortly.

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