The UK is aiming to cement its place as a science and technology 'superpower' by 2030

Mon 6 Mar 2023
Posted by: Phillip Adnett
Trade News

Scientist experimenting in lab wearing protective gloves and handling equipment

The UK is aiming to cement its place as a science and technology ‘superpower’ by 2030, with the government unveiling a 10-point Science and Technology Framework today (6 March).

The first major piece of work from the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) will see a package of new measures worth more than £370m to boost innovation and investment in new technologies such as artificial intelligence.

Launching the plan, prime minister Rishi Sunak said innovation would grow the economy, create high-paid jobs, protect security and improve lives.

“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,” he said.

10-point plan

The 10 points of the new Science and Technology Framework include:

  • showcasing the UK’s science and technology strengths and ambitions at home and abroad to attract talent, investment and boost global influence
  • boosting private and public investment in research and development
  • financing innovative science and technology companies

The plan is slated to start immediately, with an initial raft of new and existing funding worth around £500m in total.

The cross-government endeavour, led by the DSIT, is focused on five ‘technologies of tomorrow’ – quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors and future telecoms, and life sciences and green technologies.

No US tech partnership

The UK’s new strategy has faced a setback, as president Joe Biden has declined multiple requests to develop a US-UK advanced trade and technology dialogue, similar to structures the US has with the EU.

Politico reports that Liz Truss tried to advance the idea as both trade secretary and PM but fear of angering the US’s European partners and the UK’s diminished status outside the EU were seen as barriers.

Meanwhile, the founder of one of Britain’s top technology success stories has said the British government’s long-term technology strategy “couldn’t be any worse than it is at the moment”.

Criticism

Jamie Urquhart, co-founder of semiconductor designer Arm said that there was very little continuity to the UK’s approach to semiconductors, reports Bloomberg.

The company has decided against listing in London this year and will look to the US as “the best path forward”.

Another British tech firm, WANdisco has confirmed that it is exploring moves to list on an American stock exchange, according to Business Live.

No Horizon yet

The Nobel prizewinning geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, who is reviewing the UK’s scientific research operations for the government, has warned that the country risks being isolated without membership of the EU Horizon science programme, according to The Times.

Sir Adrian Smith, president of the Royal Society, echoed the complaint whilst welcoming the government’s new science and technology plan.

Sunak has not yet decided whether the UK will re-join the €95.5bn scheme.