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What’s Onward This Week

International crises rarely stay overseas, often to the chagrin of politicians who fear being buffeted by events outside their control. The only way through is to be on the front foot rather than risk being caught off guard. This week, we saw this play out in two speeches at Bletchley Park and Chatham House. 

One was where Rishi Sunak sought to take early control of the biggest technology disrupter of our generation, artificial intelligence, and the other was where Sir Keir Starmer battled pressure to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. While China’s invitation to the summit and Sunak’s interview with Elon Musk were derided by some, it showed the Government on the front foot. But the Israel-Hamas war has brought up old Labour ghosts to haunt Starmer.

✍️ Research

While the minds of world and business leaders focused on the risks of artificial intelligence this week at the Global AI Safety Summit, we must also remember the opportunities the technology promises. From rewiring Whitehall to helping startups, Onward has published a series of recommendations on how the Government can achieve its science superpower goal and use AI to unlock growth and improve public services. Here’s how.

Wired for Success urged ministers to empower the Science Department with responsibility for universities and exempt its work from lengthy and bureaucratic Treasury spending controls. The Generative AI Revolution called for the UK to develop the “Great British GPT” to stay ahead in the AI race. 

Our most recent paper, The UK’s AI Startup Roadmap, in partnership with the Startup Coalition and Tony Blair Institute, laid a roadmap to help AI startups with R&D tax breaks, reformed visas and more computing power. 

Innovation is a great British strength, but too many fall into the funding ‘valley of death’. This week’s Onward panel with Minister for Investment Lord Dominic Johnson debated how the UK can remove obstacles facing science and technology startups. If you missed it, you can watch it back here.

📰 Media Mentions

Onward Director Sebastian Payne wrote for the i about the sometimes malign influence of WhatsApp on decision-making in Government.

Deputy Director Adam Hawksbee spoke to the Independent on why the Government needs to move away from piecemeal and competitive levelling up funding pots.

Adam is quoted in the New Statesman on new coastal neighbourhoods. He also joined the Institute for Government’s latest podcast on the future of devolution. 

🌐 Onward Online

How can the UK lead on AI? Here’s how.

Onward’s Head of Politics and Polling, James Blagden, reveals his favourite graph. 

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