Science, technology and innovation are woven into the UK’s national story. They are essential parts to delivering national growth and development. No one questions the need for the UK to have stronger growth and greater prosperity. But, in the post-Brexit landscape, the UK’s participation in Horizon Europe remains uncertain. While committed to association, the UK cannot allow its science base to be on hold indefinitely.
The decade-long stagnation in productivity growth, a transition to a net zero energy economy, current geopolitical threats and an ageing population are among the challenges to which science, technology and innovation must be applied. So, in or out, how does the UK continue to nurture its thriving innovation sectors?
The opportunity is ripe to seize the post-Brexit era and ensure the domestic regulatory system is agile and pro-innovation. To protect the UK’s science base, it is wise the Government is developing a contingent ‘Plan B’ for how its research and development funds can be spent. ‘Science superpower’ and ‘innovation nation’ are shared missions, the question and challenge now lies in how they are delivered.
Key points of the discussion:
One panellist, Professor Richard Jones, Chair of Materials Physics and Innovation Policy and Vice-President of Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement at Manchester University, said:
“We must aspire to be an ‘innovation nation’, but to build that, we need innovation cities and innovation regions all across the UK.”
Another panellist, The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts said:
“Technologies and missions cannot be conflated. Otherwise crucial funding may be lost or redirected. It must be remembered that general purpose technology is often the most disruptive. It cannot be forgotten that successful missions depend on prior investment in general purpose technologies. When President Kennedy announced the moonshot, there had already been at least five years of American funding of rocket technologies. That is what made the mission possible, the complementarity of missions and technologies. Success needs both.”
Your contribution will help fund cutting edge research to make the country a better place.