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Government in new research and development push after Boris Johnson vows to make UK a 'scientific superpower'

The announcement comes after Boris Johnson restated his pledge to make the UK a "scientific superpower"

2 min read

Ministers have unveiled plans to “rejuvenate” research and development in Britain following Boris Johnson's pledge to make the UK a "scientific superpower".

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said the new plan would provide an extra £300m fund to upgrade scientific and research labs across the country in order to boost work on climate change and disease prevention.

The announcement comes after Boris Johnson used a speech on Tuesday to promise a "new deal" for Britain in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, adding: "Though we are no longer a military superpower we can be a science superpower".

Mr Johnson made a similar commitment in August last year when he relaxed visa rules to allow leading scientists to apply for jobs in the UK, but the new plans will see the creation of an Office for Talent to cut "unnecessary red tape" for those looking to move to the country.

Based in No10, the government said the new office would work across Whitehall to "review the effectiveness" of the immigration system, as well as "break down barriers" for foreign students and scientists.

Announcing the measures, Mr Sharma said: "The UK has a strong history of turning new ideas into revolutionary technologies – from penicillin to graphene and the world wide web.

"Our vision builds on these incredible successes to cement Britain’s reputation as a global science superpower.

"The R&D Roadmap sets out our plan to attract global talent, cut unnecessary red tape and ensure our best minds get the support they need to solve the biggest challenges of our time."

Ministers have already committed to boost R&D investment to £22bn a year by 2024/25, but said the new roadmap would help boost collaboration between government, industry, research organisations and local authorities.

Science minister Amanda Holloway said the plans would help "rejuvenate science and research" across the UK.

"Coronavirus has shown us the agility, creativity and innovative thinking of our world-leading institutions, scientists and researchers to tackle this disease and save people’s lives," she said.

"We want to harness this expertise to rejuvenate science and research across the UK, building a future that is greener, safer and healthier.

"The R&D Roadmap will help us achieve our ambitions by unleashing the potential of science and research to embrace diversity, resilience and adaptability while tackling our biggest challenges such as achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050."

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