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expert reaction to government press release about new science and technology plan, the new Science and Technology Framework

The Prime Minister and Technology Secretary have launched the new Science and Technology Framework, hoping to ‘cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030’.


Prof Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

“Today’s announcement is a positive next step in driving forward the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a science and technology superpower by 2030, and firmly places research at the centre of plans for growth.

“Delivering the economic and societal benefits of research relies on stability in political and financial support for the sector so it is encouraging to see the measures that are being put in place, from extending the Horizon Guarantee to releasing new funding for skills.

“However, these announcements follow years of uncertainty on Horizon Europe.  It is important that Government urgently secures full UK participation to the programme as a key step to delivering on their commitment to provide long-term stability to the sector.  We note also that the independent Nurse review published by the Government today also robustly supports this position.

“The Academy, together with the wider scientific community, has repeatedly highlighted that full UK participation in Horizon Europe is the best possible outcome for research and for the health of people everywhere, and we urge the Government to seize this opportunity and deliver stability.”


Prof Bart De Strooper, Director of the UK Dementia Research Institute, said:

“Scientific innovation is the UK’s best asset for growing the economy, creating jobs and improving all our lives.  The government’s new plan rightly recognises the potential of UK science to transform our economy and our country.

“It is particularly encouraging to see the emphasis on collaboration across government departments to realise this ambition.  However, even more critical is the UK’s ability to collaborate fully with scientific colleagues across Europe.  As the UK’s leading biomedical research institute dedicated to neurodegenerative diseases, we are unequivocal that full association to Horizon Europe is our best hope for breakthroughs.  Now that the Windsor Framework has been agreed, we urge the Government to immediately confirm the UK’s association to Horizon, to end the two-year impasse that has been so damaging, and finally unleash the full potential of UK science.”


Tom Grinyer, Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, said:

“Today’s announcements and funding commitments are a welcome recognition of the importance of physics research, innovation and technology to the country’s future, and it’s good to see what appears to be a joined-up approach to science across government.

“But what the UK really needs to become a global leader in science and new technology is a clear, comprehensive and stable long-term vision for R&D, backed up by well-funded strategies for key technologies, skills, discovery research and business innovation.

“Top of the Prime Minister’s list should be association to Horizon Europe and, with it, access to thriving international partnerships and stability that new technologies depend upon.  The new plan is a step in the right direction but the government’s continued hesitation on Horizon puts the government’s tech ambitions – and the UK’s future as a science superpower – at risk.”


Sarah Main, Executive Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering, said:

“The Science and Technology Framework is an important piece of work, informed by the R&D community, that sets out how Government can achieve a step change in UK prosperity and wellbeing through science and technology.  That same R&D community are as one in calling for the UK to associate to European research programmes.  Yet the Government have struck a notably lukewarm tone in recent days as barriers to association have been lifted.

“Association to Horizon Europe will accelerate achievement of the 10 priorities the Government has set today.  It does not preclude an ambitious global position for the UK in research and innovation, but in fact enhances and enables it.  So I encourage the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State to leave aside reticence and to use the coordinating power of the new Department to expedite agreement on UK’s research relationship with Europe that will underpin the global success of the Framework they have published today.”


Nicola Perrin MBE, CEO of Association of Medical Research Charities, said:

“If the UK is to become a science superpower, research needs sustained investment with a clear strategic direction.  It’s good to see the first outputs from the new Department of Science, Innovation and Technology recognise this as a priority.

“We look forward to seeing further detail about implementation, and particularly to understand how the new Science and Technology Framework can build on existing strategies, such as the Life Sciences vision.  We are pleased to see an emphasis on incentivising philanthropic funding – charities are vital partners to drive research that provides benefits for patients and society.

“It is good to see Sir Paul highlighting charity funding as a valued component of research support in the UK.  AMRC member charities have invested £15 bn in medical research over the last decade.

“We believe a stable and sustainable research base is essential for incentivising competitively awarded funding from charities.  We welcome discussions between Government, universities and charities to develop a sustainable approach to long-term funding, including addressing the shortfall of the CRSF.”


Prof Sir Peter Horby, Director of the Pandemic Sciences Institute at the University of Oxford, said:

“This commitment is a welcome step in the right direction and will help consolidate the UK as a Science and Technology Superpower.

“UK scientists showed extraordinary global leadership in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic – not least in the development of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the pioneering RECOVERY trial, the world’s largest COVID-19 drug trial.  Embedding this level of innovation and partnership will deliver enormous national and international benefits but will, however, require even greater financial commitment than we have seen today.  The funds announced today are a fraction of those available in the EU and US.

“To deliver the ambitions outlined in the Science and Technology Framework and other government initiatives – such as the 100 Day Mission to provide diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for pandemic threats – we urgently need the UK government to deliver the funding needed.”


Prof Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomes the launch of the government’s new Science and Technology Framework.  It is very positive to see the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology already contributing to a more joined-up, cross-government approach to advancing the pro-innovation policies that will be essential for the UK to thrive and to help tackle global challenges.

“We welcome the focus in the Framework on both securing UK advantage in strategically important technologies and ensuring that these strengths translate into benefits that improve people’s lives.  It is vital that we can attract and retain global talent and investment, and provide progressive leadership in the development of these disruptive technologies that are already touching our lives, will create economic opportunities, and have the potential to shape our future in profound ways.  We look forward to working with the government to harness the expertise of the technology and engineering community in delivering on the aspirations of the Framework.”


Prof Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said:

“Today’s announcement is a clear signal that research and innovation sit at the heart of the Prime Minister’s productivity and growth agenda for the UK.

“It is also reassuring to see the Secretary of State at the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology launching a plan that aims to bring every part of government together to meet one single goal, cementing the UK’s place in the world as a global science and technology superpower.

“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 announced today is a welcome intervention, but it is yet another sticking plaster, when the ultimate goal needs to be speedy association now that the barriers to this have been removed by the EU.  We need to see a firm commitment from the Prime Minister to delivering full association.”


Prof Dame Ottoline Leyser, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said:

“The 10 point plan expertly integrates research and innovation strategies from across government, to provide a clear, actionable plan for the UK’s prosperity.  The sustained and long-term commitment to this plan will allow all UK citizens to reap the benefits of UK’s strengths in research and innovation.”


Prof Sir Ian Boyd, President of the Royal Society of Biology, said:

“Science and technology is already a central plank of modern life.  Putting this centre-stage in government strategy is essential and welcome.  The question is whether the ambition reflected in this plan can now be translated into truly transformative action.”


Prof Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, and former President of the Royal Society, said:

“A wise mantra for the UK is “If we don’t get smarter, we’ll get poorer”.  This document offers welcome words on expanding and exploiting our scientific strengths.  But the sums actually promised seem no more than the Research Councils need to compensate for recent real-terms cuts.  What matters in the longer-run is whether there’s a genuine commitment to confront the mega-challenges – financial, political and educational – needed to transform rhetoric into reality.”


Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

“The Government’s ambition to invest in and harness the excellent research and innovation taking place across the UK is welcome.  It will help to grow our economy, create new high-skilled and high-paid jobs, protect our security and improve lives across the country.

“However, while it is good to see £370m of new funding being announced today, it is still far short of the £1.6bn taken out of the research budget less than two weeks ago.

“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.

“The Windsor Framework shows that where there is the will there is a way and we hope UK association can be realised before the latest three month Horizon guarantee extension comes to an end.”

Notes to editors from the Russell Group

Examples of UK projects funded by previous Horizon programmes

University of GlasgowThe Emotive Project

Funded through the Horizon 2020 programme, the project allows users to imagine what life might have been like hundreds of years ago through the power of Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality technology and digital storytelling. The project has been used at  UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Antonine Wall and the related Roman Frontier display at The Hunterian in Glasgow and the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey. It creates experiences that be used on-site or online so it can be used in classrooms to bring history to life.

Imperial College London – European AIDS Vaccine Initiative

EAVI is a consortium of researchers from 22 public organisations and biotech firms from across Europe, Australia, Canada and the US aimed at making protective and therapeutic HIV vaccines. Led by Imperial College London, EAVI was funded by a €23m Horizon grant, helping scientists pool knowledge and expertise to develop vaccines that can be taken to human trial in five years.

University of LiverpoolPAsCAL.

The PAsCAL project involved 13 organisations from across the EU and looked at how to develop autonomous vehicle systems including airborne ones that would be more user friendly and reassuring for passengers. Researchers at Liverpool offered their expertise in airborne autonomous vehicles to develop a new set of new guidelines and recommendations for industry at the end of 2022.

University of SheffieldThe Amos project

This project shows how Horizon association provides a platform for global collaboration. Sheffield’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) led a €2.6 million four-year collaboration between European and Canadian aerospace manufacturers and researchers to investigate the use of additive manufacturing techniques for repair and remanufacturing of aerospace components (Horizon 2020). The project was supported by Canadian funding agencies CARIC and NSERC.


Dr Roger Highfield, Science Director, Science Museum, and coauthor (with Peter Coveney) of Virtual You: How Building Your Digital Twin Will Revolutionize Medicine and Change Your Life, said:

“It is really exciting news that the UK plans to set up an exascale supercomputer facility, given that we led the way in computing thanks to the likes of Babbage, Lovelace and Turing.  Exascale computers are capable of a billion billion (10 to the power of 18) operations per second and will boost a wide range of research — for example, by creating digital twins of fusion reactors, the planet, even individual people, one can accelerate energy, climate and medical research, respectively.  UK scientists and engineers will welcome this announcement of further funding for high performance computing, which has fallen behind in the past dozen years.  However, if the world’s first exascale machine (Frontier in the US) is anything to go by, this supercomputer will demand a hefty pricetag of around half a billion pounds.”


Prof Sir John Hardy FRS FMedSci, Chair of the Molecular Biology of Neurological Disease, UCL, said:

“One has learnt to be careful about government funding announcements for research, but if this is new money and is sustainable over time, then it has to be good news.  Science thrives on continued support.”



Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it.  As such, our policy is not to ask for interests to be declared – instead, they are implicit in each person’s affiliation.



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