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With its start-up mindset, DSIT is delivering rapid change

3 min read

They say a week is a long time in politics.

Well, at the time of writing, my Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has been up and running for almost 52 of them – and the work rate here certainly proves that old adage true. Week by week, we have been delivering at a pace we would normally see spread over several years.

We have invested billions of pounds into key technologies such as semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum, future telecoms and engineering biology.

We have set out our unapologetically ambitious science and technology framework – a 10-point plan to cement the UK as a science and tech superpower by 2030.

We secured a new bespoke deal to associate to Horizon Europe, we hosted the world’s first AI safety summit, we passed the world-renowned Online Safety Act – the list goes on. All this from a department that only came into existence in February last year. 

The reason behind DSIT’s success lies as much in how we think as in what we do. From day one, I have instilled a startup mentality from top to bottom. I don’t just want the people in my department to “engage” with the businesses we represent; I want them to understand and in many cases be from those businesses. That sense of urgency and jeopardy that drives all entrepreneurs is something I grew up seeing in my father as he fought to keep his small business alive – and it is a mentality that can deliver extraordinary things when transplanted into Whitehall.

The Conservatives’ practical, proactive, pro-business approach has taken us a long way since 2010. By putting opportunity first, empowering the entrepreneurs and risk-takers who are driving growth and creating wealth, we oversaw an extraordinary transformation in our tech sector.
When we assumed office, still recovering from the financial crash, venture capital investments in UK startups were just one-tenth of what they are today; our innovators were starved of the cash they need to scale.

Back then, we had just 10 ‘unicorn’ businesses (startups valued in excess of $1bn). Today, we’ve got over 150 –  that’s more than France, Germany and Sweden combined. Those businesses are the beating heart of a tech sector valued at over $1tn, which rakes in far more investment than anywhere else in Europe.

But the value of our tech sector is measured in more than dollars and cents or pounds and pence. Right now, British startups and scale-ups are creating an explosion of opportunities in communities up and down the country. Our tech sector employs more than two million people across the country – people who are unlocking the potential of innovation to improve lives for many millions more.

It is DSIT’s job to make sure that this extraordinary success story continues in the decades to come. In 2024, I look forward to working closely with industry, academia and my colleagues across the House to deliver on these priorities. Together we can ensure that, in our second year, DSIT delivers even more for the British people than it did in our first. 

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