Government announces new Science and Technology Framework to boost UK innovation

Building on the Government’s 2020 R&D roadmap, the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has announced a number of measures it will take to “deliver the most critical actions needed to secure strategic advantage through science and technology. The plan will bring together responsibility for the UK’s research and innovation system into one single department for the first time.

The Science and Technology Framework sets out a strategic vision to foster the right conditions for industry innovation and to promote world leading scientific research, the framework outlines how the government will take a robust and repeatable approach to identify the 5 technologies that are most critical to the UK: quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, future telecoms plus life sciences and green technologies.

The 10 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 Framework begins 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.

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

  • £250 million investment in 3 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 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 Organisational Landscape with recommendations to make the most of the UK’s research organisations, 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 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 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 £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 programme to provide dedicated compute capacity for important AI research, as part of the response to the Future of Compute Review
  • £9 million in government funding to support the establishment of a quantum computing research centre by PsiQuantum in Daresbury in the North-West

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 ten 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.”

Read the Henry Royce Institute’s response to the Independent Review of the UK’s Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape, which forms part of the Government’s framework, here.