Lords tech chair slams ‘chronic underinvestment’ in UK innovation

UK innovation Image credit: Mutualité Française via Flickr

The chair of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has written to Prime Minister Liz Truss urging greater investment into UK tech R&D innovation.

The letter from Baroness Brown of Cambridge followed the conclusion of an inquiry from the committee looking into the delivery of the UK Science and Technology strategy.

The Baroness warned of the “chronic underinvestment” into UK scientific innovation “compared to other OECD countries”, which she said threatens the UK’s strong position in tech.

She also urged the prime minister to appoint a science minister to the cabinet “at the earliest opportunity”.

In a report in August, the committee urged whoever took over as prime minister to establish the role of minister for science and innovation as a cabinet-level position.

“We believe that these strengths are under serious threat and that efforts should be redoubled to ensure that the UK reaches and exceeds the target of 2.4% of GDP spent on R&D,” wrote the Baroness.

“A coherent, consistent, and focused science and technology policy is crucial for delivering both economic growth and more efficient public services.”

The letter also bemoaned the apparent disbandment of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), a subcommittee specifically tasked with handling tech innovation.

“We strongly urge you to reconsider this decision. A coherent and consistent strategy for science and technology coordinated across government departments is vital for economic growth and to tackle the many challenges we face.”

The letter concluded by saying the UK has “significant potential” to become a “science and tech superpower”, but the Truss government would have to “renew its focus on science and technology investment”.

The full letter can be read here.