UK government launches new science, innovation and technology department
The UK government has launched a new department dedicated to science, innovation and technology in a bid to grow the UK economy.
The new division comes as part of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle, which created four departments from the former DCMS and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) units.
The new departments will cover policy across energy, security and net zero, business and trade, and a re-focused Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Former DCMS secretary of state Michelle Donelan – whose career outside politics included marketing for brands such as Marie Claire magazine and World Wrestling Entertainment (WEE) – will be tasked with overseeing the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, according to reports.
“A dedicated Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) will drive the innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new and better-paid jobs and grow the economy,” said a statement from 10 Downing Street.
“Having a single department focused on turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, appliable solutions to the challenges we face will help make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world.”
In a statement outlining the guidelines for the new department the government said it “will focus on positioning the UK at the forefront of global scientific and technological advancement.
“It will build on our strong foundations of world-class research, a thriving technology scene and global networks of collaboration to create a golden thread from outstanding basic science to innovations that change lives and sustain economic growth.”
Sunak added that DSIT will “make sure the UK is the country where the next great scientific discoveries are made – and where the brightest minds and the most ambitious entrepreneurs will turn those ideas into companies, products, and services that can change the world.”
Sunak highlighted six “priority outcomes” for DSIT:
– To increase the level of private research and development (R&D) to make the UK economy the most innovative in the world;
– To deliver gigabit broadband, make the UK the best place to start a tech business, and attract and develop the best talent;
– To put public services at the forefront of innovation, with in-house science and technology capability;
– To strengthen international collaboration on science and technology;
– To deliver key legislative and regulatory reforms such as the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill and the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill.
– To pass the Online Safety Bill.
The UK government has highlighted tech as a key growth area, as Sunak looks to fulfil pledges to return the country back to growth. At the beginning of this month Sunak deployed a draft of new regulations to take hold of activities in cryptocurrency.
The PM also signed off investment close to £1m for artificial patients to take part in clinical trials, among a flurry of other activities, and developed a ‘scale-up’ programme last summer to boost tech talent post Covid.
However, questions have also been raised about the government’s approach after it withdrew funding from start-up incubator Tech Nation, leading the not-for-profit to announce its closure.
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