December 8, 2023

The document, which outlines recommendations for attracting investment, comes as the UK launches a strategy to establish the UK as a “science and technology superpower by 2030”.

The 10-point plan includes ways to pursue transformative technologies, attract top talent and ensure they have the tools they need to succeed, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has suggested.

Recording Times this week, Sunak reiterated that “the race to create, develop and exploit… new technologies is global” as he launched the Science and Technology Framework.

“By 2030, I want to consolidate the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower,” he wrote.

“By 2030, I want to consolidate the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower”

“It means we will be the world’s laboratory, home to the brightest scientists and most visionary entrepreneurs. It means pursuing a vision of science and technology that is about openness, connection and opportunity, unlike countries like China that use it to exercise authoritarian control.

Research and development investment will reach £20bn a year by the end of Parliament, the UK prime minister has said, with Downing Street “changing the way government works” with a new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and an Agency for Advanced Research and Invention.

“We have world-class strengths in research and the third largest technology ecosystem in the world,” he added, launching a “long-term” plan to make science and technology “the UK’s new national purpose”.

The strategy “takes advantage of being outside the EU to do things differently and better, especially when it comes to regulation,” Sunak continued.

The measures are backed by more than £370m to “increase investment in innovation, bring the world’s best talent to the UK and unlock the potential of disruptive new technologies such as AI”.

The role of universities in managing foreign investment in UK research and development a report from HEPI and Midlands Innovation describes a plan that could “unleash the potential to raise the standard of the UK’s world-renowned higher education sector”.

The paper notes that while universities already play an important role in attracting foreign direct investment, this role can be “expanded and strengthened” through better collaboration with local partners and the government.

Among the recommendations, the report said the government should focus on the world’s top 200 R&D investors.

The new government ministries can be used to launch a renewed and more ambitious approach to securing foreign direct investment in science and technology, she suggested.

The report suggested that universities can ensure that capturing foreign direct investment is integrated into university priorities by “consciously embedding plans to attract foreign investment into existing research and university-wide strategies”.

Universities should continue to develop their approach to research commercialization by considering how they can work together to aggregate their portfolios and ‘hunt in packs’ to attract more significant investment.

“If the UK is to achieve further substantial economic growth and at the same time break even, we now need to get even better at receiving new investment from overseas,” said HEPI director Nick Hillman.

But the government’s new strategy comes as UK research waits for Westminster to confirm the country’s membership of the EU’s Horizon Europe research funding programme. Researchers expected the UK to seek a link as soon as possible after the announcement of the Windsor Framework.

“Now we need to be even better at receiving new investment from overseas”

Sunak has not yet responded to further moves by the UK to rejoin the €95.5bn science programme. Instead, the government has announced an extension of support for UK Horizon Europe applicants until the end of June 2023.

Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said on March 6 that the EU had so far “made no proposals to address the financial terms of the UK’s association”, pointing to transitional measures if association was not possible.

The chief executive and director of the Francis Crick Institute and Nobel laureate Paul Nurse has already called for Plan B options to “fall by the wayside”.

The newly released Research, Development and Innovation Organizational Landscape Review, led by Nurse, identifies “obstacles to international collaboration”.

Brexit had the “unintended consequence” of the UK no longer having access to Horizon, and “engagement of UK researchers in European research consortia has already been damaged”, the report said.

He went on to say that some overseas scientists based in the UK said the country was no longer perceived as a pleasant place to work and problems with immigration bureaucracy had led to some leaving the UK to work elsewhere.

The UK received 12.1% of all funds allocated under the Horizon 2020 program between 2014 and 2020, representing more than €7 billion.

The review reiterated that a domestically funded replacement programme, even with a similar level of funding, “will not be able to reproduce the collaborative and reputational benefits” of Horizon Europe and related research programmes. The failure to implement a tie-up with Horizon has damaged the UK’s position and risks raising the barrier to recruiting international talent, he added.

The R&D&I review also said the financial sustainability of public research funding in universities needs to be “urgently addressed”.

While international student fees support UK university research, “care is needed as such resources are not always reliable and sustainable”, he said.

“While it is a strength of the UK higher education sector to be able to attract large numbers of international students, over-reliance on this large but potentially volatile source of funding, particularly when concentrated in specific countries, to support UK research is a cause. for concern.”

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