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What’s Onward This Week

Last night’s by-election results have sent an electoral jolt through Westminster. The Conservatives had held Mid Bedfordshire since 1931, and Tamworth had trended heavily toward the party since it swung blue in 2010. The losses reveal the challenge facing Rishi Sunak. Sir Keir Starmer will feel vindicated for his play-it-safe approach.

While by-elections are rarely good indicators for general elections, these results show the Conservatives risk losing swathes of voters to apathy. Sunak’s conference speech set out his case for change. The expected reshuffle, King’s Speech and Autumn Statement could be his opportunity to fight back. He needs to seize it with gusto.

✍️ Research

The Government is assembling the world’s first artificial intelligence (AI) safety summit at Bletchley Park next month. Generative AI is already causing disruption, and the debate on how we control technology is only getting started. But AI can also unleash growth and prosperity, especially if the UK harnesses its world-leading science prowess to grasp the opportunities it promises.

Next week, Onward is focusing on the future of AI. On Tuesday, we’re delighted to host Science Secretary Michelle Donelan for a keynote speech. Then, on Thursday, we’ll launch a new paper in partnership with the Startup Coalition and Tony Blair Institute on how the UK can lead on AI. We hope you’ll join us. 

📰 Media Mentions

Onward Director Sebastian Payne wrote for the i about how the reaction to Hamas’s terrorist attack on Israel on British streets shows the uncomfortable truth of integration.  

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove backed our latest paper, The Case for Conservatism, in an article for ConservativeHome today, calling for a state that is active, not absent.

Future of Conservatism Project Chair Nick Timothy and Project Director Gavin Rice laid out the case for renewing conservatism in the Daily Telegraph. Gavin Rice also spoke to Michael Portillo on GB News and Trisha Goddard on TalkTV about the paper.

Onward’s Head of Politics and Polling James Blagden spoke to the New Statesman ahead of the Tamworth by-election.  

🌐 Onward Online

How does the green belt influence elections? Onward’s Callum Newton explains. 

What does the National Infrastructure Assessment mean for net zero? Onward’s Ned Hammond explains.

🗓️ Upcoming Events

Keynote speech on AI from Science Secretary Michelle Donelan

We are delighted to invite you to a major speech by Rt Hon Michelle Donelan MP, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, kindly sponsored by Imperial College London.

Artificial intelligence in the UK and beyond is at a crossroads. With generative AI driving disruption, the Government hopes to harness its world-leading science prowess to unleash growth and prosperity across the country. The Government is also seeking to place the UK at the forefront of the global debate around AI security, hosting the first global AI Safety Summit this November.

There is a global debate on how we should control AI. If we are overly restrictive we risk losing out on the benefits that AI promises. Does the government have a realistic plan to strike the right balance?

In this keynote speech, the Secretary of State will set out the UK’s AI strategy and how the Government plans to ensure UK security, prosperity and influence in a world increasingly driven by AI.

Date: Tuesday 24th October

Time: 16.00 – 17.00

Location: Central Westminster, TBC

To sign up for this event, please click here.

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From idea to start-up to spin-out Tackling the ‘Valley of Death’

Innovation is a great British strength. Last year, over 5000 spin-outs and start-ups were registered in the UK. But despite contributing an estimated £1 trillion to the economy, employing over three million people, and producing some of the most successful companies in the world, many great UK innovations fail by falling into the funding ‘valley of death’. 

To deliver on the Government’s “innovation nation” ambitions, the UK must overcome stubborn obstacles preventing many businesses from scaling up. Innovators need sustained funding and investment to turn their world-changing ideas into globally leading companies.

We are delighted to welcome the CEO of climate tech start-up Levidian, John Hartley, as our partner in this panel discussion, which will consider how the UK can create an ecosystem in which funding is both accessible and efficient. More speakers from across politics and business will be announced soon

A networking lunch will be available from 13.30 before this event begins at 14.00. The discussion will be followed by a short Q&A.

We hope you are able to join us.

Date: Wednesday 1st November 

Time: 13.30 – 15.00

Location: Central Westminster, TBC

To sign up for this event, please click here.

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🚨 Onward Jobs

Head of Energy and Environment

Onward is looking for an exceptional individual to lead our Getting to Zero research programme. 

The successful candidate will need at least five years’ experience writing high quality research, ideally in energy security and environment policy, and be able to demonstrate project management experience. 

They must also be comfortable engaging with and contributing to public policy debates, including through the media, policy events and meetings with MPs, ministers and civil servants.

To apply please email your CV and a covering letter to office@ukonward.com

Closing date: Friday 27 October

You can find more information here.

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