UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday unveiled his government's ambitious plans to become a global science superpower and replicate the success of the country's COVID-19 vaccination programme.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday unveiled his government’s ambitious plans to become a global science superpower and replicate the success of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme. A new National Science and Technology Council, chaired by prime minister Johnson, will provide strategic direction on the use of science and technology as the tools to tackle great societal challenges. And, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, will head up a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy (OSTS), based in the Cabinet Office, as he takes on the additional role of the new National Technology Adviser.
“From discovery to delivery, our vaccination programme has proven what the UK can achieve at scale and at speed,” said Johnson. “With the right direction, pace and backing, we can breathe life into many more scientific and technological breakthroughs that transform the lives of people across the UK and the world. That’s why I’m establishing a new ministerial council and office at the centre of government, so we can realise the limitless possibilities that research and technology has to offer and cement the UK’s place as a global science superpower,” he said.
The new OSTS is designed to strengthen the government’s insight into cutting-edge research and technologies and work across departments to put science and technology at the centre of policy and public services. It will also identify what is needed to secure and protect the capability in science and technology required in the UK to deliver the government’s ambitions.
“The new Office for Science and Technology Strategy will put science and technology right at the heart of policy-making and strengthen the way we work across government to reinforce the position of the UK as a science superpower,” said Sir Patrick Vallance. One of the first tasks of the Office for Science and Technology Strategy will be to review the technology bets the UK should back and prioritise for strategic advantage.
Downing Street said the government’s successful vaccine and therapeutics programmes have proven how science can deliver real, meaningful benefit to the British people and transform lives around the world, helping to protect people from coronavirus and enable societies to reopen again.
The Prime Minister is tasking the whole of government, working with the new council and office, to take the success of the UK’s approach to vaccines and apply it to other priorities “setting bold visions, acting with speed, and taking risks, which can bring high rewards and benefits to the UK, including in developing technology to reach net zero, curing cancer and not only treating it, and keeping our citizens safe at home and abroad,” it added. The UK government said it is currently investing GBP 14.9 billion in research and development (R&D) for 2021-22 year, dubbed the highest R&D spend for four decades.