AIRTO applauds new ministerial council and Office for Science and Technology Strategy

AIRTO, the Association of Innovation, Research & Technology Organisations, on behalf of its members, welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement to establish a new ministerial council and Office for Science and Technology Strategy to be headed up by Sir Patrick Vallance, taking on the role of the new National Technology Adviser.

AIRTO – the representative body for the UK’s Innovation, Research & Technology (IRT) sector which turns over ~£7bn per annum and employs 57,000 people – is pleased to see the UK government recognising the power that science and technology can play in tackling societal challenges and transforming lives.

Commenting on the announcement AIRTO’s Chair, Dr Paul Howarth FREng, said:

“The IRT sector plays a vital and unique role in bridging between academia and commercial markets and generating economic activity based on science and best practice. The level of innovation required to tackle big missions such as achieving Net Zero Carbon Emissions is enormous, and needs nurturing and investment if it is going to make the right impact, so our sector very much welcomes this enhanced commitment from government to advance innovation.”

Looking forward to the new Innovation Strategy that government is expected to publish in the coming weeks, we are hoping the government builds on this positive move to place science and technology at the heart of the UK’s recovery from the pandemic by focussing on how it can further support the UK’s science and innovation capabilities through supporting:

  • Talent: Prioritising skills for the future to power the fourth industrial revolution.
    This requires the new innovation strategy to make better use of the IRT sector as a breeding and training ground for people skilled both in technology and in the needs and operations of industry.
  • Global partnership formation: Leveraging the international growth of the IRT sector to export innovation and world-firsts by building new collaborations and shipping British standards around the globe.
    This requires the new strategy to commit to an aligned sector-focused international plan to leverage partnerships and customer relationships to create new initiatives that will enhance strategic national missions.
  • The innovation ecosystem: Utilising the IRT sector to capitalise on the extensive network of innovation assets and their convening power across the UK to invigorate future economic growth.
    This requires the new innovation strategy to change the ‘mix’ to spread the risk, delineating between the ‘R’ and the ‘D’ of ‘R&D’ to invest in more DEVELOPMENT infrastructure and capabilities, balancing it appropriately against the UK’s substantial investment in early-stage RESEARCH.

In doing so, the government will stand to benefit from:

– boosting the skills of the innovation workforce to fulfil its recently stated ambition to be a ‘Science and Technology Superpower’;

– building on previous and existing investment in the IRT sector ecosystem;

– strengthening global competitiveness.

The appointment of a Chief Technology Officer will provide foresight and deliver national co-ordination of science and technology activities. This inclusive approach will enable cohesive programmes and projects with a clear, achievable, exploitable end-results to be successfully planned, undertaken and delivered at scale and pace. The IRT sector, which helps both new and mature technology and innovation to reach into the marketplace, servicing the needs of its industrial client base, looks forward to working with this important new initiative of government. Read the full government announcement here…