Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will report on Thursday a further reshuffle of the network of bodies the UK government uses to fund research and development, as he unveils initiatives to boost UK competitiveness after Brexit.
Only three years ago, the government led by Theresa May reorganized the sector to create a new super-quango dedicated to financing innovation.
Ministers then merged Innovate UK and Research England with the UK’s seven research councils to create a comprehensive national funding agency called UK Research and Innovation with a budget of £ 6 billion.
But Boris Johnson’s government has drafted legislation to create a rival ‘blue sky’ science research agency that will invest taxpayer dollars in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence.
The new body, called the Advanced Research and Invention Agency, with a budget of £ 800million over four years, was originally headed by Dominic Cummings, the former chief adviser to the Prime Minister.
Kwarteng’s innovation strategy involves an independent review which “would assess the landscape of UK organizations undertaking all forms of research, development and innovation”.
He will say it is the government’s job to make sure the UK keeps pace with the ‘global race for innovation’, adding: ‘If we do it right, we can lay the groundwork for new industries. of tomorrow and ensuring that UK companies are at the forefront of turning global cutting-edge science into new products and services that are successful in international markets.
The government has said it has pledged to increase public investment in R&D to £ 22 billion every year.
However, a recent study by the Higher Education Policy Institute, a think tank, found that the UK is likely to miss its target of spending 2.4% of its gross domestic product on research and development by 2027.
Kwarteng’s Innovation Strategy outlines seven strategic technologies that focus on existing R&D strengths in the UK, including robotics, genomics and AI.
The strategy also offers “high potential individuals” and “scale-up” visas to allow “internationally mobile” entrepreneurs to work in the UK.
Separately, Kwarteng and Lord David Frost, Minister of the Cabinet Office, will define a post-Brexit regulatory approach in the UK on Thursday, including reviving the “one in, two out” model to cut red tape.
Kwarteng will announce that the new regulations will now be drawn up on a “principle of proportionality”, marking a break with what he claims to be the EU’s excessive use of the “precautionary principle”.
It also seeks to make more use of regulatory “sandboxes” where certain rules are lifted to test new products in the markets under the supervision of watchdogs.
Part of the program was possible before Britain left the EU: David Cameron’s coalition government introduced the model of removing two regulations for every new regulation, but the policy atrophied after he left. his duties in 2016.
Kwarteng and Frost jointly developed the deregulation plan in response to a report from a task force led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Frost said that “for the first time in a generation we are free to implement rules that put the UK first”.
Joe Marshall of the Institute for Government, a think tank, said the ‘one in, two out’ regulatory model was open to being ‘played’ by officials who might be looking for trivial old rules to drop and make way. to important new regulations.
While he welcomed initiatives such as the expansion of the ‘sandbox’ approach, he said the new regulatory policy also came with risks, as the more Britain strayed from Brussels rules, the greater the likelihood of border friction with the EU.
Marshall said in an article last month: “A deviation from EU rules in Britain could deepen the border along the Irish Sea, with Northern Ireland still being forced to follow many EU rules on goods.