Government provides funding of £500 million for UK’s new Science and Technology Framework

7 March 2023 | Muriel Cozier

The government is urged to move quickly on association with Horizon Europe.

The UK government has launched a new Science and Technology Framework, which it says will ‘challenge every part of government to better put the UK at the forefront of global science and technology this decade via the implementation of 10 key actions.’ At the same time the government said that it will further extend the financial guarantee for the UK’s Horizon Europe applicants.

The new Framework, designed in consultation with industry experts and academics, has some £500 million in government funding, of which £370 million is said to be new funding. This announcement comes as much of the UK’s science and research community is looking for progress in moving toward association with the European Union’s research programmes following the completion of the Windsor Framework.

The 10 key actions of the Science and Technology Framework include: shaping the global science and technology landscape through strategic international engagement, diplomacy and partnerships; identifying, pursuing and achieving strategic advantage in the technologies that are most critical to achieving UK objectives; boosting private and public investment in research and development for economic growth; and financing innovative science and technology start-ups and companies.

The government said that these steps, amongst others, ‘will foster the right conditions for industry innovation and world leading scientific research to deliver high-paid jobs of the future and grow the economy in cutting-edge industries.’

Breaking down the areas in which funding would be made available; the government said that £250 million would be invested in engineering biology, AI and quantum technologies. This investment will ‘help a range of industries tackle the biggest global challenges,’ the government said in its statement. World Class Labs will receive £50 million which the government said will help research institutes and universities to improve facilities, and the UK Science and Innovation Seed Fund will get an extra £10 million, taking it to £50 million to boost technology and science start-ups.

An Independent Review of the Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape, led by Sir Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, has also been released as part of the Framework. The review includes recommendations to ‘make the most of the UK’s research organisations, ensuring they are effective, sustainable and responsive to global challenges.’ ‘My review of the research, development and innovative landscape makes a range of recommendations across the whole RDI endeavour, which if adopted together, provides a blueprint for Government to make the UK a genuine science superpower,’ said Sir Paul.

The developments regarding the new Framework have been welcomed by the UK’s science community. However moving toward association with the European Union remains a key priority.

‘Today’s announcement is welcome and one of the first steps to turning words into action must be securing full association to the EU funding programmes. That represents the base of a globally focussed UK science sector. The extension of the funding underwrite […] is a welcome intervention, but it is yet another sticking plaster, when the ultimate goals needs to be speedy association now that the barriers to this have been removed by the EU,’ said Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society.

Sarah Main, Executive Director Campaign for Science and Engineering said: ‘Association with Horizon Europe will accelerate achievement of the 10 priorities the Government has set out today. It does not preclude an ambitious global position for the UK in research and innovation, but in fact enhances and enables it.’

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group said: ‘In addition to investment, collaboration is the other vital ingredient for world class research. Now the political roadblocks that have held up the UK’s association to Horizon Europe have been removed, the Government’s top priority should be to finalise the agreement that was put in place over two years ago.’

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