Science and innovation Department created

The UK has created a new Department to focus on science, innovation and technology. Michelle Donelan, until recently the Culture Secretary, becomes Secretary of State at the new Department. Responsibilities for digital technology are also transferred from the Culture Department to the new DSIT. Ms Donelan is a former minister for Further and Higher Education.

The move will bring together what the Government refers to as ‘the five technologies of tomorrow’ – quantum, AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, future telecoms – along with life sciences and green technologies, into one single department, according to the Government.

Ms Donelan will, however, soon be taking maternity leave and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith will act as Secretary of State during her colleague’s absence.

Another Norfolk MP, George Freeman, has been appointed Minister of State in the Department. His responsibilities include: Horizon Europe, UKRI, the life sciences and the space sector.

Responsibility for energy and climate change has also been placed in a separate Department. Grant Shapps, previously head of BEIS, is now the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ).

Former international trade secretary Kemi Badenoch, will now head up a combined Department for Business and Trade.


Michelle Donelan: also takes on digital


New Chief Scientific Adviser

Professor Dame Angela McLean DBE FRS took up the role of Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA) on 3 April, having been appointed by the Prime Minister in February.

Dame Angela was previously Chief Scientific Adviser for the Ministry of Defence and Deputy GCSA. She is the first woman to hold the post.

The role of the GCSA is to provide independent scientific advice to the Prime Minister and members of Cabinet and advise the Government on aspects of policy on science and technology. The GCSA ensures the quality of – and improves the use of – scientific evidence and advice in Government.

The GCSA leads the Government Office for Science, is Head of the Government Science and Engineering Profession, Co-Chair of the Council for Science and Technology and is part of the executive team of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology.


Angela McLean: took up role this month 


Prime Minister launches Science and Technology Framework

At the beginning of March, the Prime Minister and Technology Secretary together launched the Government’s plan to make the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030, together with announcements about a raft of new measures backed by £370 million to boost investment in innovation, bring the world’s best talent to the UK, and seize the potential of new technologies like AI.

The Science and Technology Framework is the first major piece of work from the newly created Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and will require every part of Government to put the UK at the forefront of global science and technology this decade through 10 key actions – creating a coordinated cross-Government approach.

In doing so, the Government aims to foster the right conditions for industry innovation and world leading scientific research to deliver high-paid jobs of the future, grow the economy in cutting-edge industries, and improve people’s lives in ways ranging from better healthcare to security.

As the Framework was launched, the Government announced that delivery of this new Framework will begin immediately with an initial group of projects worth around £500 million in new and existing funding, which will help ensure the UK has the skills and infrastructure to take a global lead in these technologies.


Net zero review prompts response

In autumn 2022, the Government commissioned an Independent Review of Net Zero. Led by former Energy Minister Chris Skidmore MP, the review was tasked with assessing the Government’s approach to net zero, to ensure it was pursuing the most economically efficient path to meeting its climate change commitments, given the changed economic context.

The Net Zero Review travelled to all four nations of the UK, received over 1800 responses to the Call for Evidence, and held more than 50 roundtables. The final report states: ‘We heard a clear message from businesses, organisations, individuals, and local government across the country: net zero is creating a new era of opportunity, but Government, industry, and individuals need to act to make the most of the opportunities, reduce costs, and ensure we deliver successfully.’

The Government has now published its response to the final report from the Review. In addition, it has also published Powering Up Britain setting out how the Government plans to enhance the country’s energy security, seize the economic opportunities of the transition, and deliver on our net zero commitments.



  • The Foundation held a meeting about the Review on 21 March which will be featured in the next issue of FST Journal.

UN delegates finalise High Seas Treaty

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has commended delegates to an Intergovernmental Conference at the UN for finalising a text to ensure the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

This breakthrough — which covers nearly two thirds of the ocean — marks the culmination of nearly two decades of work and builds on the legacy of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The new agreement, known as the United Nations High Seas Treaty, was agreed at the UN on 4 March.

The Secretary-General said that: “This action is a victory for multilateralism and for global efforts to counter the destructive trends facing ocean health — now and for generations to come. It is crucial for addressing the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.”

Guarantee fund awards £1 billion

The Horizon Europe Guarantee fund has reached an important milestone with more than £1 billion now awarded to UK-based researchers and innovators.

The funding is enabling them to participate in Horizon Europe projects while the UK’s association to the flagship EU funding programme is delayed.

At the beginning of April, the Government set out its prospectus for a programme to protect and support the UK research and innovation sector, should it be required.

The guarantee fund is delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). It supports researchers and innovators who have been successful in Horizon Europe competitions but cannot receive EU funding due to the delays to the UK’s association to the programme. With guarantee funding they can continue their work in research and innovation.


UKRI: funding milestone

Government drafts AI regulatory blueprint

The Government launched an AI Regulation White Paper in March. Five principles, including safety, transparency and fairness, will guide the use of artificial intelligence in the UK, says the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, as part of a new national blueprint for regulators to drive responsible innovation and maintain public trust in this revolutionary technology.

The UK’s AI industry is thriving, employing over 50,000 people and contributing £3.7 billion to the economy last year. Adopting artificial intelligence in more sectors could improve productivity and unlock growth, says the Government, which is why it is committed to unleashing AI’s potential across the economy.

As AI continues developing rapidly, questions have been raised about the future risks it could pose to people’s privacy, their human rights or their safety. There are concerns about the fairness of using AI tools to make decisions which impact people’s lives, such as assessing the worthiness of loan or mortgage applications.

The Government believes that the proposals in the AI regulation white paper will help create the right environment for artificial intelligence to flourish safely in the UK.

Currently, organisations can be held back from using AI to its full potential because a patchwork of legal regimes causes confusion and financial and administrative burdens for businesses trying to comply with rules.


‘Reshaping the state’

Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair and former Conservative leader William Hague have published a joint report calling for “a fundamental reshaping of the state” based on a new consensus across the political spectrum on the central role of science and technology in UK society.

“The future of Britain will depend on a new age of invention and innovation,” they say. “Technological superpowers such as the United States and China are investing heavily in their futures, raising the possibility that everyone else will be trapped behind these two forces – a risk the European Union is belatedly recognising and acting upon.

“Britain must find its niche in this new world. To do so requires a radical new policy agenda, with science and technology at its core, that transcends the fray of 20th-century political ideology.”

“With science and technology as our new national purpose,” they conclude”, “We can innovate rather than stagnate in the face of increasing technological change. This purpose must rise above political differences to achieve a new cross-party consensus that can survive any change of Government.”