Given the increasingly critical and integral role of science and technology (S&T) in determining the nation’s future it is necessary to consider if the UK’s current approach to harnessing S&T is fit for the scale of need and national ambition. We believe it has not been to date and that there is much work to do to achieve this. The UK government has also recognised the need for change, as demonstrated by its recently published Science and Technology Framework.
The UK government is seeking to achieve ‘strategic advantage through science and technology’. This agenda could transform the UK’s approach to science and technology policy, ensuring science and technology delivers competitive advantage and socio-economic benefits across the UK.
Engineering harnesses the power of S&T to deliver tangible, real-world outcomes which benefit the UK. With the engineering community we are exploring how to deliver strategic advantage through S&T.
Capturing themes and reflections from the engineering community, here we set out: why we believe pursing strategic advantage through S&T is essential and why now; our vision for achieving it; and where we believe that radical change is needed.
Drawing on a systems approach, we undertook "deep dives" into semiconductors and public procurement. We facilitated workshops with researchers, entrepreneurs, industry end users and policymakers to explore the current state of the research and innovation ecosystem, to identify barriers to achieving strategic advantage, and recommended actions for change.
Exploring the UK semiconductor innovation system
The Academy convened a workshop in November 2021 bringing together stakeholders from across the system, including researchers, start-ups and scale-ups, industry, finance and government policymakers. This paper summarises the workshop discussion, taking a systems approach to better understand the needs of users, the wider socio-politicotechnical context, as well as practical consideration for successful policy implementation to build on UK semiconductor innovation strengths.
Public procurement drive innovation in pursuit of national goals
To understand the system, barriers and opportunities for successful change, the Academy, with the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST), convened a workshop in June 2022 bringing together stakeholders including startups and large businesses from across different sectors, public agencies, and government innovation and procurement teams. The workshop took a systems approach to better understand the needs of users, and considered practical ways for government to successfully implement policies that use the bulk of its procurement spend on innovation in pursuit of national goals.