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Government announces Science and Technology framework

The government has announced the first major work completed by its recently launched Department for Science, Innovation and Technology

The government plans to put the UK at the front of global science and technology over the next 10 years, through a 10-point framework.

It said it will reveal more detailed plans by the summer, but has already announced financial backing 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 that government policy will deliver against, and which the government will hold itself accountable to”.

The UK Science and Technology Framework includes a new investment of about £370m “to boost investment in innovation, bring the world’s best talent to the UK and seize the potential of groundbreaking new technologies like AI”, according to the government.

It outlined 10 focus areas for the framework and said it will have a “clear action plan” for each by 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 carried out by the recently established Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), which was set up to combine work previously done separately by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Including existing financial commitment, about £500m will be invested. The initial projects will see a £250m investment in developments around AI, quantum technologies and engineering biology. The government said these three are part of its commitment to the five technologies, which also includes semiconductors and future telecoms.

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UK prime minister Rishi Sunak said: “Trailblazing science and innovation have been in our DNA for decades, but in an increasingly competitive world, we can only stay ahead with focus, dynamism and leadership.

“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.

“The more we innovate, the more we can grow our economy, create the high-paid jobs of the future, protect our security and improve lives across the country,” he said.

Paul Nurse, director of the Francis Crick Institute, said: “It is absolutely right, as the prime minister has said, that the future of the UK depends upon research, science and technology. Only by being a leading science nation can the UK drive a sustainable economy, increased productivity, and generate societal benefits such as improved healthcare and protecting the environment.”

Nurse published his Independent review of the research, development and innovation organisational landscape, which contained recommendations to make the most of the UK’s research organisations.

Michelle Donelan, science, innovation and technology secretary, said: “We are putting the full might of the British government and our private sector partners behind our push to become a scientific and technological superpower, because only through being world leaders in future industries like AI and quantum will we be able to 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 capability;
  • To strengthen international collaboration on 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.

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