Kit Malthouse insists that harnessing the UK’s technological prowess will not only create thousands of new jobs, but help improve public services.
Below, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster says future technologies will also help ease pressure on the NHS and make our streets safer.
Boris Johnson yesterday hailed the UK’s position as a ‘scientific superpower’, with the government having already pumped £22billion into UK science.
And the Prime Minister promised the new Advanced Research Agency would “solve the big problems of our time, from dementia to zero-carbon aviation”.
“In the first quarter of this year, the UK attracted more venture capital investment in technology than China,” he wrote in a Sunday newspaper article.
“We have more technology investment than France, Germany and Israel combined and we’re churning out a new £1billion ‘unicorn’ company roughly every two weeks.
“These new ideas are flourishing not just in the golden triangle of Oxford, Cambridge and London, but across the UK as we drive our upgrading agenda forward.”
Earlier this month, two major reports warned that the government’s plans for science and technology would fail without a greater focus on results and more spending on research and development.
The House of Lords’ all-party science and technology committee criticized ‘the lack of a comprehensive plan for the strategic development of science and technology in the UK’ and warned that the ‘scientific superpower would remain an empty slogan unless the new Prime Minister “changes[ed] emphasis on implementation and delivery”.
His report was echoed by that of centre-right think tank Onward, which urged outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s successor to ‘be more assertive in targeting R&D spending in areas of strategic strength’ and was endorsed by several prominent Conservative MPs and former ministers.
Mr Malthouse agreed ‘specific plans’ needed to be put in place and said investing more in science and technology would help ‘answer the tough questions of tomorrow’.
“Science and technology must be at the heart of triggering the post-covid economic recovery, stimulating growth and creating new jobs, as well as improving public services, making our streets safer and tackling pressures on our NHS.
“However, we must first make choices about key technologies. Areas such as AI, quantum technologies, engineering biology, future telecommunications and semiconductors hold particular promise where we already have strength.
“They will need specific plans, including how they will be developed in our regions and how to incentivize our private sector partners.
“While we must focus on our actions today, we must also remain open to what the future holds. Only by embracing this and harnessing science can we answer the tough questions of tomorrow.