New report outlines steps to help UK deliver on science and tech superpower ambition

3 mins read

The Government must create a level playing field for UK businesses in science and technology, according to a new report published by Pragmatic Semiconductor.

The report draws up ten key recommendations for Government if it is to achieve its ambitions of becoming a science and technology superpower. The report, ‘How can the UK turbocharge its ambition to become a science and technology superpower?’, has been published following a parliamentary roundtable which Pragmatic convened last month.

The roundtable brought together policy makers, business leaders, industry bodies and think tanks from across the science and technology sector.

The report was also based on research commissioned by Pragmatic earlier this year, which revealed that 40% of UK business leaders surveyed do not agree the Government is providing enough support for this sector to help them compete on a global scale and reach superpower status by 2030.

According to the report the UK has a rich background in science and technology, but while the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology is driving further investment and world-leading work in five ‘critical technologies’ - AI, engineering biology, semiconductors, quantum computing and telecoms – in order to become a true global ‘superpower’, stronger foundations are needed to maximise the potential of the UK’s tech and science business ecosystem.

Pragmatic’s report lays out ten key recommendations for the government:

Levelling the playing field – the Government must create a level playing field for UK-based science and technology companies in comparison with other global markets. More than half (53%) of business leaders surveyed by Pragmatic thought the Government didn’t provide enough incentives for companies to keep their manufacturing operations and headquarters in the UK.

Strategy – the Government should publish the promised white papers and strategies to support the five ‘critical technologies’ as soon as possible, including the long-awaited semiconductor strategy.

Leveraging domestic demand – the Government must look into how it uses public sector procurement as a tool to support domestic demand for cutting-edge science and technology companies. Over a third (37%) of business leaders surveyed felt that more government procurement opportunities would be helpful for securing UK-based investment to grow their businesses.

Supply chain security – the Government must consider how new innovative models for delivering technologies could assist in a more secure supply chain in the UK.

Cultivate an investor ecosystem – the Government should cultivate a more dynamic and confident approach from British investors towards innovative science and technology businesses.

Capitalise on existing networks – working with the existing Catapult network and other expert bodies, the Government must examine how to better marry tech investors and experts to guide investment decisions.

Global communications campaigns – the Government should prioritise global communications campaigns to promote British success stories.

Streamlining visas – the Government should streamline the current visa process and reduce costs for the sector to recruit talent from abroad.

Training the next generation – the Government should create more opportunities for British post-graduates to undertake secondments in science and innovation hubs abroad.

Promoting STEM in schools – the Government should better promote better STEM careers in schools, fostering links between innovative businesses and local educational institutions.

The Government recently published the Science and Technology Framework, with a clear intention to publish strategies and white papers to support the five 'critical technologies', including semiconductors.

To achieve ‘Superpower’ status the Government must take concrete action to capitalise on the UK's strong foundations and help the sector grow and prosper. Failure to do so, will see the country losing out on a thriving science and technology business ecosystem.

“As an innovative British business, we want to help this country achieve its goal of becoming a science and technology superpower,” said Scott White, CEO and founder of Pragmatic Semiconductor. “To begin to grapple with these questions, we brought together experts and decisionmakers from across the science and technology sector for a parliamentary roundtable, and undertook research to underpin our understanding of the challenge we face. We hope it will make a practical contribution to the Government’s work to turn scientific and technological ambition into a reality.”

Chair of the roundtable, Paul Howell, MP for Sedgefield, said, “I know that in the UK, we have the ingredients that we need to succeed in becoming a science and technology superpower. We have a tradition of innovation and a hunger to succeed.  We have some of the world’s finest universities, employing and teaching the brightest minds. And we have some of the most exciting, ground-breaking science and technology companies in the world.

“The UK’s ambition to become a science and technology superpower is crucial to driving economic growth and prosperity. Pragmatic’s report is a welcome addition to the public discussion about how we can best realise that ambition, and I look forward to the debate it will provoke.”