I am pleased to announce that I have today published the report “Changes and Choices”, co-authored by Professor Sir Adrian Smith and Professor Graeme Reid. This report, which I commissioned in March of this year, provides independent advice on the design of UK funding schemes for international collaboration, innovation and curiosity-driven blue-skies research. In the course of producing the report, Sir Adrian and Professor Reid issued a call for evidence and engaged in discussions with the research and innovation community across the UK. I would like to place on record my thanks to Sir Adrian and Professor Reid, as well as to all of those who engaged with them to ensure that the UK continues to be a global leader in science, research and innovation.
The UK’s world-leading science, research and innovation sector delivers real economic and social benefits for communities across the country. International collaboration allows us to work at greater scale than the UK could alone – for example to meaningfully tackle global challenges, such as climate change, artificial intelligence, cancer, and the future ageing society. In the Withdrawal Agreement Bill debate on 22 October, the Prime Minister confirmed that “we will protect, preserve and enhance” cooperation with European science and research funding programmes.
Sir Adrian and Professor Reid highlight the importance of stabilising and building on the UK capability built up through our international partnerships to date. This Government has participated in negotiations with European partners in a positive spirit as Horizon Europe takes shape - and intends to consider association to Horizon Europe provided the programme is open to third country association and offers value for money to the UK. Any decision about associating to the programme will need to take place after both the Horizon Europe proposal and the Multiannual Financial Framework discussions have been completed in Council.
This Government is committed to ensuring that the UK continues to be a global science superpower. That is why we have committed to increasing R&D investment to at least 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and have announced our intention to significantly boost R&D funding to provide greater long-term certainty to the scientific community and accelerate our ambition to reach the 2.4% target. In this context, I welcome Sir Adrian and Professor Reid’s recommendation that the Government should set out a new vision for international collaboration. The report will help inform our ongoing ambition to deliver wide-ranging and effective research and innovation collaborations with partners around the world.