The government plans to put the UK at the forefront of global science and technology over the next 10 years, through a 10-point framework.
It says it will reveal more detailed plans in the summer, but has already announced financial support for projects around artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing technologies.
According to the government, the UK Science and Technology Framework will act as a “strategic anchor to which government policy will be delivered, and to which the government will be held accountable.”
The UK Science and Technology Framework includes a new investment of around £370m “to boost investment in innovation, bring the world’s best talent to the UK and unlock the potential of new technologies like AI”, according to the government.
It outlined 10 focus areas for the framework and said it would have a “clear action plan” for each over the summer, identifying critical technologies, investing in research and development, talent and skills, international opportunities, and innovation in the public sector.
The framework is the first major project undertaken by the recently established Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), which was set up to integrate work previously carried out separately by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport ( DCMS) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
Including the existing financial commitment, around £500m will be invested. Initial projects will see £250m invested in developments around AI, quantum technologies and engineering biology. The government said these three are part of its commitment to five technologies, which also include semiconductors and future telecoms.
UK prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Leading science and innovation has been in our DNA for decades, but in an increasingly competitive world, we can only move forward with focus , dynamism and leadership.
“That’s why we’re putting 10 key actions under a bold new plan to strengthen our place as a global powerhouse in science and technology by 2030 – from advancing technologies to innovations such as 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 high-paying jobs of the future, protect our security and improve the lives of the entire country,” he said.
Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: “It is absolutely right, as the prime minister said, that the future of the UK depends on research, science and technology. It is only by becoming a leading science nation that the UK can drive a sustainable economy, increase productivity, and generate social benefits such as improved healthcare and environmental protection.
The nurse published her Independent review of the research, development and innovation landscape of the organizationwith recommendations to optimize UK research organisations.
Michelle Donelan, science, innovation and technology secretary, said: “We are putting the full strength of the British government and our private sector partners behind our drive to become a science and technology superpower, because only by becoming world leaders in future industries such as AI and quantum can we improve the lives of every Briton.”
When it was announced in February, Sunak highlighted six “priority outcomes” for DSIT:
- To increase the level of private research and development to make the UK economy the most innovative in the world;
- To deliver gigabit broadband, make the UK the best place to start a tech business, and attract and develop the best talent;
- To put public services at the forefront of innovation, with in-house science and technology capabilities;
- To strengthen international collaboration in science and technology;
- To deliver key legislative and regulatory reforms such as the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill;
- To pass the Online Safety Bill.