The federal government’s regularly specified aspiration to make the UK a “science and technology superpower” will stop working without higher concentrate on outcomes and more costs on research study and advancement, according to 2 different reports on Thursday.
The cross-party House of Lords science and innovation committee criticised the “lack of an overarching plan for the strategic development of UK science and technology” and cautioned that “science superpower” would stay an empty motto unless the brand-new prime minister “shift[ed] the focus to implementation and delivery”.
Its report was echoed by one from the centre-right think-tank Onward, which advised the follower to outbound premier Boris Johnson to “be more assertive at targeting R&D spending into areas of strategic strength” and was backed by numerous popular Conservative MPs and previous ministers.
In their report, the Lords committee stated: “There is a profusion of sectoral strategies in areas such as artificial intelligence and life sciences that need to be consolidated into a logical whole. There is little sense of how they fit into an overall plan.”
Pointing out that George Freeman’s resignation last month had actually left the post of science minister uninhabited, the peers included that selecting somebody brand-new to the task — and making science a cabinet-level portfolio — need to be a top priority for the brand-new administration.
Committee chair Baroness Julia Brown stated it had “found a plethora of strategies in different areas with little follow-through and less linking them together”, including that “numerous bodies and organisations” had “unclear or apparently overlapping responsibilities”.
The peers stated the federal government had actually currently harmed the UK’s global track record by abrupt cuts in 2015 to research study moneyed by Official Development Assistance. Continued failure to concur involvement in the EU Horizon Europe program “risks harming the UK’s reputation further and jeopardising the quality of its science base”, they included.
Meanwhile, Onward stated Johnson’s follower must home in on “areas of strategic strength such as clean tech, AI and quantum computing”, cautioning that if they were “unwilling to reform science policy then they will put the UK’s national security and geopolitical leadership in jeopardy”.
The think-tank included: “To do this they will need to overhaul the role that research councils and universities play in funding scientific research and target more money at translating discoveries into products and services that will impact the real economy and our strategic goals.”
Freeman was among the previous ministers to back Onward’s report. He stated: “The UK is already a science superpower in discovering new ideas and building thriving knowledge networks, but we could do much more to apply them for the benefit of . . . strategic and economic priorities.”
A federal government representative stated: “We are fully committed to cementing the UK’s position as a science superpower, and this is backed up by record levels of investment.
“The UK still wants to associate to EU programmes and continue to work with our European partners. If the EU’s delays mean the UK is unable to associate to Horizon, Euratom and Copernicus soon, we are committed to introducing a comprehensive alternative programme of international science, research and innovation collaborations.”