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Government appoints Dave Smith as UK national tech adviser

The former Rolls-Royce technology director will take over the role of UK national technology adviser, following government recruitment campaign for the role in the wake of former tech adviser Patrick Vallance’s departure

Prime minister Rishi Sunak has appointed former Rolls-Royce technology director Dave Smith as the UK’s national technology adviser.

In his new role, Smith will be responsible for positioning the UK at the forefront of scientific and technological advancement, with a focus on integrating academic and industry expertise with government to boost the country’s ambitions.

The appointment comes after the government began recruiting for the role in April 2023, following news that former tech adviser Patrick Vallance was leaving government.

The job advert stated the government was looking for a candidate with “excellent leadership skills” and relevant experience in the technology and innovation sector, and someone who has a “fantastic network across a combination of science, technology and digital arenas”.

Following a “rigorous process”, Smith was appointed by prime minister Rishi Sunak, who said Smith brings “expertise and vision to this vital role”.

“We share the ambition of forging a better Britain and growing the economy through technology – and with Dave at the helm, we will champion the dynamism of the tech sector so that it can continue to thrive, attracting top talent, boosting innovation and cementing our place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030,” Sunak said.

Coming from his most recent position at Rolls-Royce, where he spent five years as director of technology, Smith has worked in the technology space for a long time. Prior to joining Rolls-Royce in 2017, Smith held the role of managing director for tech consultancy firm Ricardo’s European business, as well as group head of technology at PA Consulting.

Smith said he is “deeply honoured” to serve as the UK’s national technology adviser, adding: “Throughout my career, I’ve consistently advocated for the transformative power of technology and innovation to redefine societies.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to harness the growing potential of the British tech sector to drive growth and tackle society’s biggest challenges. Building upon the significant foundations laid by Sir Patrick Vallance, I’m eager to ensure the UK’s continued leadership and position as a global tech superpower.”

Smith will be reporting directly to the Department for Science Innovation and Technology’s (DSIT) permanent secretary Michelle Donelan and advise her on how to build and enhance the UK’s technology strength, as well as built networks across industry and academia.

Commenting on the appointment, Donelan said the department has a clear mission to “ignite innovation that enriches our economy, elevates our public services, and strengthens our national security”.

“Dave Smith’s appointment sends a firm message: we are committed to bringing the brightest tech minds to government, and working hand-in-glove with industry to make the most of what tech has to offer,” she said.

“The UK is pro-tech and open for business, I look forward to championing and delivering for the sector alongside Dave. Dave’s work and visionary leadership will no doubt propel us towards our goal of becoming a global tech superpower by 2030.”

The DSIT was created as part of a reshuffle that saw the creation of four new departments, combining responsibilities for tech-related policies that were previously split across the former Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The department has six priority outcomes, including increasing the level of private research and development (R&D) in the UK, delivering gigabit broadband, putting public services at the forefront of innovation, strengthening international science and technology collaboration, delivering legislative and regulatory reforms, and passing the Online Safety Bill.

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