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UK and US to develop tech and science partnership

Partnership will explore collaboration in areas such as innovation, research, defence, security, intelligence and law enforcement, as well as making sure technology is ‘used as a force for good’

The UK and the US are creating a science and technology partnership, aiming to strengthen the relationship between the two countries, create new jobs and protect the security of citizens.

The partnership comes as US president Joe Biden is visiting the UK for the G7 Summit, and sits within the framework of the “revitalised” Atlantic Charter.

Officials from both countries will work to develop it further over the next year, including working towards a statement of intent to help realise the potential of quantum technologies, develop proposals on future technology such as 6G, and increase collaboration on digital technical standards.

It will also explore several areas for potential collaboration, such as research, innovation and commercialisation, defence, security, law enforcement and intelligence, and using technology for good.

Digital secretary Oliver Dowden said that in the 80 years since the original Atlantic Charter was signed, technology “has changed beyond recognition”.

“But the goals that underpin it still bind the US and UK together today – support for democracy, open societies and free markets,” he said.

“Today’s announcement marks a new era of cooperation with our closest ally, in which we commit to using technology to create prosperity and guarantee the safety and security of our citizens for years to come.”

Both the UK and the US have an ambition to become world leaders in technology and innovation, including research and development (R&D). The UK government aims to invest £14.9bn in R&D during 2021 and increase total public and private investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

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Eric Lander, presidential science adviser and director of the US Office of Science and Technology Policy, said there are “few relationships as consequential as the transatlantic partnership between the United States and United Kingdom in science and technology”.

He added: “We share a belief in the power of science and technology to improve health, prosperity and security, and a commitment to the importance of investigator-driven research, freedom of inquiry, and equitable participation in the science and technology enterprise.”

The partnership will build on the Ten tech priorities, set out by Dowden in March 2021, which aim to “power a golden age of tech in the UK”.

Dowden’s Ten tech priorities also include levelling up digital prosperity across the UK, fuelling a new era of startups and scaleups by creating the right environment for companies to access growth capital, and building a tech-savvy nation.

The government was originally due to publish a digital innovation strategy last autumn. The strategy failed to materialise and is currently being delayed with no set date for delivery, but the government has said it is likely to be launched at some point this year.

The strategy aims to set out how to build a highly skilled digital workforce across the country, help people to adjust to a digital-led economy, help businesses become digital and enable people to move into the tech sector.

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