March 6, 2023 — The UK Prime Minister and Technology Secretary have launched their 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 £370 million (US$445 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 10 points of the new Science and Technology Framework center 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 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.
- Capitalizing 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 public services run.
The delivery of this new Framework will begin immediately with an initial raft of projects, worth around £500 million (US$602 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.”
The initial package of projects to drive forward the actions of the Science and Technology Framework includes:
- £250 million (US$301 million) investment in 3 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 the UK’s commitment to the 5 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 Organizational Landscape with recommendations to make the most of the UK’s research organizations, ensuring they are effective, sustainable and responsive to global challenges.
- Testing different models of funding science, to support a range of innovative institutional models, such as Focused Research Organisations (known as FROs), working with industry and philanthropic partners to open up new funding for UK research. 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.
- Up to £50 million (US$60 million) to spur co-investment in science from the private sector and philanthropists to drive the discoveries of the future, subject to business cases. The government is already talking to Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, about additional support of up to $20 million as part of this work.
- £117 million (US$141 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 (US$12 million) uplift to the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund, totaling £50 million, 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 program to provide dedicated compute capacity for important AI research, as part of the response to the Future of Compute Review.
- £9 million (US$11 million) in government funding to support the establishment of a quantum computing research center 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 endeavor 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 5 technologies of tomorrow – quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, future telecoms plus life sciences and green technologies, into one single department for the first time.
The UK government will be making further announcements shortly, including publication of the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy.
Source: Government of the United Kingdom