National Science and Technology Council launched

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The UK government has announced the creation of the National Science and Technology Council to provide "strategic direction" on how research is harnessed for the "public good".

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser to the government, will lead a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy while the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will chair the National Science and Technology Council.

According to the Prime Minister, the UK's vaccination programme had proven what the UK can achieve at scale and speed.

"With the right direction, pace and backing, we can breathe life into many more scientific and technological breakthroughs that transform the lives of people across the UK and the world," he said.

The PM's ambition is to replicate the success of the UK's vaccination programme, which was led by the venture capitalist Kate Bingham and was able to secure tens of millions of doses of Covid-19, enabling the UK to start vaccinating people much earlier than many other nations.

The National Science and Technology Council will be overseen by Vallance and will look for opportunities in other areas of science and technology that the UK could pursue “for strategic advantage”.

According to Vallance, his new role would help coordinate investment in cutting-edge research: “The new Office for Science and Technology Strategy will put science and technology right at the heart of policymaking and strengthen the way we work across government to reinforce the position of the UK as a science superpower.”

The creation of the council comes as the government aims to increase research spending from nearly £15bn a year to £22bn by 2025 targeting societal challenges, such as the impact of climate change, levelling up across the country and boosting global prosperity.