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Science and Technology Framework: Briefing

By March 10, 2023No Comments

In the framework’s foreword, the Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, praised the immense achievements of the UK science and technology industries, noting our outsized accomplishments, and stated that investment in these areas remain more important than ever going forward. While rankings are important metrics, the success of UK SciTech rests on the material benefits afforded to British citizens through the introductions of new innovations across the economy, including in health and energy. The Government’s central aspiration in this area remains the same: to make the UK a Science and Technology Superpower by 2030.

The Framework

The UK’s future fortunes rest with the success of UK SciTech and its ability to transform lives by making us a richer, stronger, more powerful nation. This can only be achieved if all levels of Government, business, and academia work together and the public remain engaged, too. It is crucial that swift action is taken and this framework will be the strategic anchor by which this Government will measure itself by. The framework has been developed in collaboration with the UK’s SciTech sector.

  1. Identifying Critical Technologies

The Government will:

  • Use a robust and repeatable approach to identify the technologies that are most critical to the UK, assessing over 50 technologies against eight criteria, including health and life sciences and sustainability. Additionally, the Government has identified a portfolio of five critical technologies, including AI and engineering biology. The National Science and Technology Council will review this list annually to ensure that the UK keeps pace and continues to develop global competitive advantage – although there will be a high bar to major change given the need for long-term planning.
  • Create an environment for technologies to flourish using all nine levers set out in the framework. The Government must be prepared to intervene in markets, it will also develop cross-cutting plans to optimise SciTech systems for all identified technologies, informed by the UK’s strengths and interests as well as other nations’ interests. Reliable supply chains will be sought to protect UK businesses.

The aforementioned plans will include, initially, work on: developing a pro-innovation approach to regulating AI in a White Paper to be published in early 2023; establishing a plan to protect the strategic advantage that we develop from state threats for each critical technology; and nsuring that emerging technologies can be used to support a more innovative public sector while managing the risks.


  1. Signal UK Strengths and Ambitions

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • Clearly communicated the Government’s SciTech priorities and actions, increasing confidence among UK stakeholders to conduct activity that supports our objectives.
  • Built a sense of shared science and technology goals that key stakeholders have co-created, including championing success stories.
  • Promoted internationally the strength of the UK SciTech system and their longer-term ambitions.

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) is developing an action plan with other departments to achieve these aims and will, initially: increase reach to different audiences by delivering coordinated communications with key partners; launch the GREAT Tech campaign in March to target the West Coast of the US to improve perceptions and promote investment; run the UK’s second Global Investment Summit in October; improve uptake of STEM subjects, technical education and advanced digital training through the Skills for Life campaign and the next phase of the Get the Jump campaign.


  1. Investment in Research and Development

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • Increased private sector investment in R&D
  • Ensured the UK has the right diversity in the science and technology landscape, including by optimising organisations such as Catapults as well as new innovative models. The Landscape Review led by Sir Paul Nurse will inform these choices.
  • Raised domestic public investment in R&D outside the Greater South East by at least 40%.
  • Accelerated translation, commercialisation and knowledge exchange through targeted support for local innovation clusters.
  • Reduced bureaucracy of research and innovation funding, with funders experimenting with new approaches.

DSIT is developing an action plan with other departments to achieve these aims and will, initially: respond to the Tickell Review of Research Bureaucracy in early 2023, and Sir Paul Nurse’s Review of the Research, Development and Innovation Landscape; work with industry and philanthropic partners to increase inward investment by Summer Recess 2023; pilot new Innovation Accelerators supporting UK city regions to become major, globally competitive centres for research and innovation.


  1. Talent and Skills

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • Created an agile and responsive skills system, which delivers the skills needed to support a world-class workforce in STEM sectors and drive economic growth and forecast where gaps will emerge and work to fill them
  • Recruited and retained high-quality FE and school teachers in STEM-related subjects.
  • Expanded opportunities for participation in STEM and increase diversity in the SciTech workforce, particularly in AI.
  • Established competitive advantage in attracting international talent to the UK through a high-skilled visa system and UK researchers will participate in international exchanges
  • Given people the opportunity to train, retrain and upskill throughout their lives to respond to changing needs, particularly through career advice schemes linking STEM training at 16 with well-paid jobs.

The Department of Education is developing an action plan with other departments, including DSIT,  to achieve these aims and will, initially: develop a DfE Skills Dashboard in 2023, to understand the supply and demand of science and technology skills for the technologies that we plan to prioritise; work across government, with educators and employers, to develop the pipeline of individuals entering priority computing and digital sectors; find and attract the next generation of AI leaders from around the world; continue to roll out a network of 21 employer-led Institutes of Technology (IoTs), which will offer higher level technical training.


  1. Financing Innovative Science and Technology Companies

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • Narrowed the financing gap for the UK’s most innovative science and technology companies, reducing the financing gap to the USA and capitalise upon the UK’s mature, open markets to support the UK’s most innovative companies.
  • Increased the supply of UK institutional investment to deepen the pool of domestic capital available for scaling UK science and technology firms, engaging closely with institutional investors, particularly defined contribution pension schemes, to address any remaining barriers to investment in innovative UK companies.
  • A scale up finance ecosystem capable of nurturing the next generation of globally competitive science and technology companies and will strengthen the pipeline of high-quality science and technology businesses and spin-outs.

The Treasury is developing an action plan with other departments, including DSIT, to achieve these aims and will, initially: build upon the strong track record of the British Business Bank to strengthen support for the UK’s scaling science and technology companies; implement in legislation the recommendations of the Hill Review to enhance the attractiveness of the UK as a place to list; engage with defined contribution pension schemes to unlock institutional investment into UK science and technology companies; deliver the Digital Growth Grant to boost small and scaling technology businesses in all corners of the UK.


  1. Procurement

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • A track record of strategically pulling through current and future innovations by clearly signalling the pipeline of technologies the Government needs to procure to meet its own ambitions in critical technologies.
  • The business development and venturing capability to back science and technology companies that support their objectives, forming a range of partnerships with innovative high-growth firms. Departments will clearly articulate their technology needs and have the business scouting expertise to search for relevant technologies and work with businesses to support pull-through into procurements.
  • Increased spend by departments on innovative products and services, aided through a defined portion of procurement spend directly supporting innovation (to be defined by each department).
  • A culture within policy and operational teams across departments to be an intelligent and coordinated customer which supports innovation and critical technologies. Including better technical expertise and faster procurement across all departments.

The Cabinet Office is developing an action plan with other departments with a large procurement spend to achieve these aims and will, initially: set a minimum proportion of government procurement expenditure to directly support innovation in critical technologies; scale the Small Business Research Initiative to support their critical technologies; progress the Procurement Reform Bill through Parliament, to create a simpler and more flexible, commercial system making it easier for new entrants such as SMEs; work with contracting authorities throughout 2023 to initiate culture change towards innovation across the public sector, through the training and guidance that will support the implementation of the Procurement Reform Bill.


  1. International Opportunities

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • Clearly and consistently communicated the UK’s science and technology priorities, strengths and values to international audience of governments, academics, investors and industries.
  • A prioritised and varied set of science and technology-based international partnerships, building on existing links and which strengthen the UK and its global influence.
  • A coordinated approach to international science and technology activity, including facilitating long-term research and infrastructure partnerships.
  • Embedded a systematic approach to handling national security risks around international R&D collaboration and inward investment, while weighing up security risks against loss of opportunity
  • A diplomatic network with strong science and technical knowledge and incountry networks, and greater international technology leadership.

The Foreign Office is developing an action plan with other departments, including DSIT, to achieve these aims and will, initially: deliver the £119 million International Science Partnerships Fund to create bigger, better science than we can do alone; expand the UK’s network of Tech Envoys to build our diplomatic network to have unrivalled technical knowledge and geographic reach; establish a UK Technology Centre of Expertise so that their tech experts can support developing countries to transform their economies, aligned with their common principles; develop partnerships with emerging and leading technology nations, through targeted R&D investment and expertise, to build global resilience to shared challenges


  1. Access to Physical and Digital Infrastructure

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • Increased infrastructure capacity to deliver science and technology ambitions by using a portfolio approach across all Technology Readiness Level, including upgrading and repurposing facilities which support research and commercialisation, which will be geared towards supporting innovative companies.
  • Access to a wide variety of research and innovation infrastructure across all regions of the UK, including demonstrator facilities for process/product testing and “living labs” which establish public-private-user needs and partnerships to support applied R&D.
  • Ensured that the UK strategically invests in relevant and important international infrastructure which sustains the UK’s scientific edge and aligns with critical technologies, or facilitates knowledge exchange.
  • Promoted data as an enabler as digital needs of academia, government and industry are met through well-established digital infrastructure.

DSIT is developing an action plan to achieve these aims and will, initially: set out a long-term national plan for research and innovation infrastructure, which will set direction and enhance coordination, working with the public and private sector to ensure the long-term sustainability of the UK’s infrastructure base; publish the Independent Future of Compute Review in March 2023, informing the approach to the UK’s compute needs for the next decade; invest in a research cloud pilot and giving researchers greater access to data from a range of sources through the Office for National Statistics Integrated Data Service; ensure the capabilities of Public Sector Research Establishments are understood, coordinated and available for use across the UK science and technology landscape; convene government, academia and industry experts to identify science and technology infrastructure opportunities in critical technologies; through the Government’s response to the Cyber-Physical Infrastructure consultation, setting out a plan to work with industry and academia to tackle systemic challenges and maximise the value to the UK and globally.


  1. Regulation and Standards

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • A system of regulation and standards that is pro-innovation, easy to navigate and facilitates widespread commercial science and technology applications.
  • Moved fast relative to other countries to establish world-leading rules for critical technologies and increase certainty for innovators.
  • Led international efforts to shape standards and regulations for critical technologies through groups such as the WTO and G7.
  • Become a champion of the global technical standards ecosystem that underpins international governance of critical technologies.
  • Used government horizon-scanning capability to support regulators to consider how emerging technologies could become critical technologies, with instructive dialogue from industry and regulators.

DSIT is developing an action plan with other departments to achieve these aims and will, initially: implement the findings of the Pro-Innovation Regulation of Technologies Review, to improve the regulatory landscape for digital technologies, green technologies and life sciences; work with global Standards Development Organisations (SDOs) including ITU, ISO/IEC, ETSI and IETF, to ensure that the standards underpinning our critical technologies reflect UK values; bring together industry, government, regulators, consumer groups and civil society to inform and strengthen AI governance practices domestically and internationally through our AI Standards Hub Platform


  1. Innovative Public Sector

By 2030, the Government will have:

  • The STEM skills and literacy needed to deliver science and technology policy for strategic advantage at all levels of government, including government laboratories de-risking early-stage mission-oriented research and forming the basis of innovation clusters.
  • Improved knowledge, talent and resource sharing within government, and between the public sector, academia and businesses.
  • A culture within the public sector where an innovative approach to delivering services is rewarded and supported. Value for money assessments will encourage a portfolio approach to innovation.

DSIT is developing an action plan with other departments to achieve these aims and will, initially: assess progress against the 2019 Science Capability Review and determining what the Government still needs to focus on beyond 2023; increase the proportion of STEM graduates in the Fast Stream to 50%; ensure that Chief Scientific Advisers have clearly articulated their department’s role in delivering this Science and Technology Framework based on each of their departmental science and evidence systems; train government leaders to raise their awareness of the importance of science and technology, and the key role they play in science and technology systems leadership; expand the flow of diverse, world class technical talent and proven innovators into government; provide physical space and support to public servants to test and develop novel ideas for delivering government business more effectively and efficiently.


Progress and next steps

The Government has already put necessary structures in place to support the fulfillment of the framework’s aims, including: DSIT; The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a Prime Minister Chaired Cabinet Committee dedicated to matters relating to strategic advantage through science and technology, which meets monthly; The Office for Science and Technology Strategy (OSTS), now in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, a team dedicated to driving progress on this Science and Technology Framework across government; and the National Technology Adviser, currently held by Sir Patrick Vallance.

Progress has already been accomplished through government action, including: the establishment of Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) to fund high-risk, high-reward R&D; the National AI Strategy; the UK Digital Strategy; and the biggest increase in public R&D investment at Autumn Statement, rising to £20 billion by 24/25.

An update will be produced by the end of 2023, setting out the progress that has been made, and the further action that must be taken to achieve Science and Technology Superpower status by 2030.


Natalie Creaney