Medtech leaders have welcomed the Government’s plans to launch a new framework aimed at cementing the UK’s position as a science and technology superpower by 2030.
Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and Science, Innovation and Technology Secretary, Michelle Donelan, this week unveiled plans for a new Science and Technology Framework alongside a raft of new measures backed by over £370m to boost investment in innovation, bring the world’s best talent to the UK, and seize the potential of ground-breaking new technologies like AI.
Challenging the status quo
The framework is the first major piece of work from the newly-created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and will challenge every part of government to better put the UK at the forefront of global science and technology this decade through 10 key actions – creating a co-ordinated, cross-government approach.
The actions centre on:
- Identifying, pursuing, and achieving strategic advantage in the technologies that are most critical to achieving UK objectives
- Showcasing the UK’s science and technology strengths and ambitions at home and abroad to attract talent, investment, and boost global influence
- Boosting private and public investment in research and development for economic growth and better productivity
- Building on the UK’s already-enviable talent and skills base
- Financing innovative science and technology start-ups and companies
- Capitalising on the UK Government’s buying power to boost innovation and growth through public sector procurement
- Shaping the global science and tech landscape through strategic international engagement, diplomacy and partnerships
- Ensuring researchers have access to the best physical and digital infrastructure for R&D that attracts talent, investment, and discoveries
- Leveraging post-Brexit freedoms to create world-leading pro-innovation regulation and influence global technical standards
- Creating a pro-innovation culture throughout the UK’s public sector to improve the way public services run
Sunak said: “Trailblazing science and innovation have been in our DNA for decades, but in an increasingly-competitive world we can only stay ahead with focus, dynamism, and leadership.
“That’s why we’re setting out 10 key actions under a bold new plan to cement our place as a global science and technology superpower by 2030 – from pursuing transformational technologies like AI and supercomputing to attracting top talent and ensuring they have the tools they need to succeed.
Trailblazing science and innovation have been in our DNA for decades, but in an increasingly-competitive world we can only stay ahead with focus, dynamism, and leadership
“The more we innovate, the more we can grow our economy, create the high-paid jobs of the future, protect our security, and improve lives across the country.”
The move has been welcomed by medtech companies as a way to help drive efficiencies and support the digitisation of health services.
Speaking to BBH, David Lozdan, head of public sector at technology company, Exponential-e, said: “This is exactly the type of initiative the healthcare industry in particular needs.
“With an aging population, post-COVID backlogs, and staff resignations, Britain needs an innovation-first mindset to ensure our investments in data-driven, digital healthcare can effectively improve patient outcomes and enhance the wellbeing of the nation.
“Past funding has been too broad and dispersed without clear objectives so we must focus our resources on specific areas where we can fine-tune solutions and quantify their impact on society as a whole.
“This requires emulating the success of targeted investments, such as the £50m funding granted to the National Pathology Imaging Co-Operative (NPIC) in 2019 through the Data to Early Diagnosis and Precision Medicine strand of the Government’s Industry Strategy Challenge Fund.
The more we innovate, the more we can grow our economy, create the high-paid jobs of the future, protect our security, and improve lives across the country
“That investment alone is helping digitise up to 2.3 million scans a year, making it easier for clinicians to use AI to optimise time to diagnosis, enable preventative care, more effectively collaborate with other healthcare professionals and labs, regardless of location, and – ultimately – saving lives.
“This funding makes it possible to replicate this success in other areas of healthcare, including A&E and biomedicine.
“But we must ensure that our investments in science and technology are targeted and our research is conducted within specific parameters to be effective and tangibly benefit society.
“By doing so, we can bring concrete benefits to patient outcomes, healthcare delivery, and society as a whole.”
The delivery of the new framework will begin immediately with an initial raft of projects, worth around £500m in new and existing funding, which will help ensure the UK has the skills and infrastructure to take a global lead in game-changing technologies.
With an aging population, post-COVID backlogs, and staff resignations, Britain needs an innovation-first mindset to ensure our investments in data-driven, digital healthcare can effectively improve patient outcomes and enhance the wellbeing of the nation
Donelan said: “Innovation and technology are our future. They hold the keys to everything, from raising productivity and wages, to transforming healthcare, reducing energy prices, and ultimately creating jobs and economic growth in the UK, providing the financial firepower allowing us to spend more on public services.
“That is why, today, we are putting the full might of the British Government and our private sector partners behind our push to become a scientific and technological superpower, because only through being world leaders in future industries like AI and quantum will we be able to improve the lives of every Briton.”
The initial package of projects to drive forward the actions of the Science and Technology Framework include:
- A £250m investment in three transformational technologies to build on the UK’s global leadership in AI, quantum technologies, and engineering biology so they can help a range of industries tackle the biggest global challenges like climate change and healthcare
- Publication of Sir Paul Nurse’s Independent Review of the Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape with recommendations to make the most of the UK’s research organisations, ensuring they are effective, sustainable and responsive to global challenges
- Testing different models of funding science to support a range of innovative institutional models, such as Focused Research Organisations, and working with industry and philanthropic partners to open up new funding for UK research
- Up to £50m to spur co-investment in science from the private sector and philanthropists to drive the discoveries of the future, subject to business cases
- £117m of existing funding to create hundreds of new PhDs for AI researchers and £8m to find the next generation of AI leaders around the world to do their research in the UK
- A £50m uplift to World Class Labs funding to help research institutes and universities improve facilities so UK researchers have access to the best labs and equipment they need to keep producing world-class science, opening up entirely-new avenues for economic growth and job creation
- A £10m uplift to the UK Innovation and Science Seed Fund, totalling £50m, to boost the UK’s next tech and science start-ups who could be the next Apple, Google, or Tesla
- Plans to set up an Exascale supercomputer facility – the most-powerful compute capability which could solve problems as complex as nuclear fusion – as well as a programme to provide dedicated compute capacity for important AI research, as part of the response to the Future of Compute Review
- £9m to support the establishment of a quantum computing research centre by PsiQuantum in Daresbury in the North West