AIRTO responds to House of Lords’ Inquiry Report on Science and Technology Strategy

AIRTO welcomes the Lords’ Science and Technology Committee’s Inquiry on ‘Science Superpower’ ambitions

AIRTO (the Association for Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations) welcomes the report of recent the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee’s Inquiry on ‘Delivering a UK science and technology strategy, entitled “Science and technology superpower”: more than a slogan?”. In particular, AIRTO concurs with the Report’s support for the government’s plans to increase levels of public investment in science and technology, and put innovation at the heart of its plans for recovery and growth. Overall, AIRTO supports the ambition for the UK to be pursuing science and technology superpower status, and the associated goal to raise the level of R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. AIRTO also concurs with the Committee’s view that a significant amount of additional work is needed on the part of government to refine and deliver the ambition successfully.

Commenting on the report’s recommendations, AIRTO’s President, Steve Yianni FREng said: “As stated in AIRTO’s written evidence to the Inquiry, the ‘science and technology superpower’ ambition is welcomed by AIRTO, but it is important that, alongside the funding announcements which have been made, critical actions by government are planned, implemented and followed through to ensure the ambition is fully realised”.

AIRTO recognises that the UK is facing unprecedented challenges at present, with the residual aftereffects of the COVID19 pandemic and the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on energy prices and inflation holding back our economy and prosperity. The Innovation, Research & Technology sector will continue to play, and indeed to develop further, its role in ensuring that the maximum national benefit is obtained by incorporating and prioritising innovation into the evolution and implementation of Innovation Strategy. However, there are some immediate causes for concern which were highlighted by the report, and which AIRTO agrees need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. These include:

  • Obtaining a resolution to the uncertainty over the UK’s association to Horizon Europe
  • Consolidation with other existing strategies, which must be sustained over the long term.
  • And the need to effect repairs to international relationships undermined by cuts to Official Development Assistance.

These issues have the potential to severely damage the UK’s standing in the world, and will detract from the nation’s ability to raise its level of public and privately funded R&D activity in the near future. Rapid, satisfactory resolution of these issues is needed.

AIRTO will continue to work with the IRT sector to ensure that the UK is regarded worldwide as a Science and Technology Superpower in all respects.


AIRTO is the Association of Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations. Its membership comprises approximately sixty of the principal organisations operating in the UK’s Innovation, Research and Technology (IRT) sector. The IRT sector has a combined turnover of £6.9Bn, employing over 57,000 scientific and technical staff (equivalent to the academic staffing of the Russell Group of universities) and, for comparison, it is significantly larger than the network of Fraunhofer Institutes in Germany both in size and its scope of activities. The sector contributes £34Bn to UK GDP. AIRTO’s members work at the interface between academia and industry, for both private and public sector clients. Members include independent Research and Technology Organisations, Catapult Centres, Public Sector Research Establishments, National Laboratories, and some privately held innovation companies.

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