Prime Minister’s plans to make the UK a global science superpower: Academy reaction

On 21 June 2021, the establishment of a new National Science and Technology Council, to be chaired by the Prime Minister, was announced.

The Council will provide strategic direction on the use of science and technology. In addition, the Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance FMedSci, will take up the role of the new National Technology Adviser, as head of a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy, based in the Cabinet Office.

In response to this announcement our President, Professor Dame Anne Johnson PMedSci, said:

“It is positive news to hear that the Prime Minister is placing science and technology at the heart of Government and I welcome the appointment of the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, as National Technology Adviser.

“These new structures could play an important role in supporting cross-Governmental coordination on many issues relating to science and technology. This is particularly critical in health-related research which spans multiple Departments. Getting it right will help to drive the development and adoption of new technologies and approaches with the potential to improve health in the UK and globally – be it through new treatments or holistic approaches to prevention.

“As these bodies are established, we must ensure a healthy balance between new and emerging technologies and the blue-skies science that will lead to longer term innovation and discovery, whilst also retaining the principle of independence in research assessment and decision making.    

“Finally, for the UK to truly become a science superpower, the Government must follow up their ambitions with a sustained commitment to real investment. It is therefore essential that the Government take the opportunity of the Spending Review later this year to set out how they will provide the funding to achieve these objectives and reach their target of £22billion by 2024/25.”

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