By Dr Dorian Parker, Senior Innovation Consultant
The UK Government’s newly established Department for Science and Technology (DSIT), which has taken on a range of policy responsibilities from the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has recently announced plans to ‘forge a better Britain through science and technology’ under its new UK Science & Technology Framework. This Framework will act as the strategic anchor that government policy will deliver against, and which the government will hold itself accountable to, and importantly, will influence the type and spread of government funding over the coming years. Below we review the take home messages from this plan and their implications for the UK’s future funding landscape.
1. Critical Technologies
Five critical technologies have been identified for the initial package of projects to be supported:
- Artificial Intelligence
- Engineering Biology
- Future Telecoms
- Quantum Technologies
Already we have seen targeted funding calls over the last few months for all of these topics and several projects have benefited from the support provided by PNO Consultants to develop well written proposals.
In total, around 50 technologies have been identified where there is opportunity for strategic UK growth. These fall into the following 8 categories:
- Sustainable Development
- Health and Life Sciences
- Digital Economy
- National Security and Defence
- International comparison
- Market Potential
- Threats and resilience
2. Signalling UK Strengths and Ambitions
This focuses on generating more interest, collaborations and attention on science and innovation domestically and internationally.
3. Investment in Research and Development
UK Government will meet its commitment to 2.4% of GDP investment in R&D. This will be achieved by increasing both private and public R&D spend. The funding competitions managed and delivered by Innovate UK are an ideal vehicle to get businesses to invest in R&D. Already, UK Government have committed to a £20 billion R&D investment in 2024/25 and we can therefore expect continued growth in the number of funding competitions run by Innovate UK. This is an ideal time to discuss your company’s technology roadmap and R&D pipeline with PNO Consultants so we can be first to the door when competitions are launched.
4. Talent and Skills
Building the UK skill base is a recurring theme across all government strategies, and will attract a number of funding competitions, as we can already see with calls focused on AI and Quantum Technologies training amongst others.
5. Financing Innovative Science and Technology Companies
The Government aims to improve the capital landscape in the UK with funding calls that attract private investors as co-funders. These schemes help companies overcome the ‘valley of death’ and enable them to gain critical growth relationships with investors. British Business Bank is another key example.
The Government will aim to use procurement to support innovative high growth companies such as those operating in the critical technology areas as discussed above. The aim being to bring more innovative high growth companies into the main activities procured by government.
7. International Opportunities
The aim is to build relationships outside of EU, such as those with US. To build on existing close relationships with international countries such as those in G7 and G20. We have seen a number of funding competitions focused on international collaboration e.g., with Canada, South Korea, Japan and others, and we can expect these to continue and grow. With extensive networks, PNO consultants can assist with building international collaborations.
8. Access to Physical and Digital Infrastructure
The aim is to grow and make access to physical and digital infrastructure available to more stakeholders, including small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). For example, the growth of digital twins or Cyber-Physical Infrastructure is a result of their criticality to many current engineering challenges. We will see more funding in these areas in the coming years. This will include schemes to support partnerships between businesses and academia.
9. Regulation and Standards
Key aim is to reduce and evolve regulation to drive growth and innovation. Here, the government will aim to simplify and ease regulatory barriers.
10. Innovative Public Sector
Finally, the UK Government wants to harness the power of the public sector to drive innovation. This will be achieved by identifying innovative solutions within government to drive efficiency and productivity as well as hire more STEM trained staff, to ensure STEM is at the heart of the public sector.
A full strategy document will be published in Summer 2023.
For further information or to discuss a project idea please contact PNO Consultants 0161 488 3488 | firstname.lastname@example.org