Boris Johnson wants UK to be a ‘science superpower’

Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he visits the The National Institute for Biological Standards, in South Mimms, Hertfordshire (Reuters)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he visits the The National Institute for Biological Standards, in South Mimms, Hertfordshire (Reuters)

Sir Patrick Vallance will head a new National Science and Technology Council tasked with ensuring the UK’s innovations are used for the benefit of the nation.

Boris Johnson announced the chief scientific adviser will lead the new group, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister and will be asked to review which prospective technologies the nation focuses on.

Alongside his current roles that have seen him play a leading role in the pandemic response, Sir Patrick will also become the national technology adviser.

Mr Johnson is also tasking Sir Patrick with running a new Office for Science and Technology Strategy to drive Whitehall’s science strategy.

The Prime Minister will ask the whole of government to work with Sir Patrick to develop on the UK’s successful approach to coronavirus vaccines and apply it to other priorities.

Downing Street said these will include developing technology to combat the climate crisis by reaching net zero and to cure, rather than just treat, cancer.

Mr Johnson said: ‘From discovery to delivery, our vaccination programme has proven what the UK can achieve at scale and at 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.

‘That’s why I’m establishing a new ministerial council and office at the centre of government, so we can realise the limitless possibilities that research and technology has to offer and cement the UK’s place as a global science superpower.’

Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance gestures as he gives an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside the new Downing Street Briefing Room in central London on March 29, 2021. - England entered the second phase of its lockdown easing on Monday thanks to a successful vaccination drive, but the government is urging vigilance as another wave of coronavirus sweeps Europe. (Photo by Hollie Adams / POOL / AFP) (Photo by HOLLIE ADAMS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sir Patrick Vallance is Britain’s Chief Scientific Advisor and will run the new agency (Getty)

Sir Patrick said: ‘The new Office for Science and Technology Strategy will put science and technology right at the heart of policy-making and strengthen the way we work across government to reinforce the position of the UK as a science superpower.

‘I look forward to working with the National Science and Technology Council to help identify cutting-edge research and technologies that will deliver strategic advantage for the UK.’

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