As part of his speech to the International Business Festival in Liverpool, Mr Clark outlined £1.3 billion of investment for British universities and businesses to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and scientific leaders who will ensure our future economic prosperity.
Previous investment in new talent has funded research into new cancer drugs and developed critical technology which will bring us driverless cars. Today's announcement will build on this success and boost the pipeline of talent needed to build a Britain fit for the future. The money, part of the single biggest investment in science in 40 years, will help ensure the UK invests 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027 and becomes the most innovative economy by 2030.
Business Secretary Greg Clark said:
We are a nation of innovators, with some of the world's greatest inventions created on British soil – from penicillin to the first computer programme. We want to retain our global reputation as a destination for world-class scientists and researchers, by providing opportunities to find and nurture the next Ada Lovelace and Isaac Newton's.
International collaboration has been key to many of the most significant discoveries and breakthroughs and I want the UK to remain the go-to destination for the best scientists and innovators. We are investing in the rising stars of research and innovation to ensure the UK is where the products and technologies of tomorrow are developed.
The inaugural UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme will receive £900 million over the next 11 years, with 6 funding competitions and at least 550 fellowships awarded over the next 3 years. The investment will provide up to 7 years of funding for early-career researchers and innovators, including support for part-time awards and career-breaks, providing flexibility to researchers to tackle ambitious and challenging areas. For the first time ever, this type of scheme will now be open to businesses as well as universities. The scheme aims to help the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators get the support they need to develop their careers. It is open to best researchers from around the world, ensuring the UK continues to attract the most exceptional talent wherever they may come from.
Complementing the Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme, the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy, and Academy of Medical Sciences will collectively receive £350 million for the prestigious fellowships schemes. This funding will enhance the research talent pipeline and increase the number of fellowships on offer for high skilled researchers and innovators.
Over the next 5 years, £50 million has been allocated through the National Productivity Investment Fund for additional PhDs, including 100 PhDs to support research into AI, supporting one of the Grand Challenges within the Industrial Strategy and ensuring Britain is at the forefront of the AI revolution.
Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation Professor Sir Mark Walport said:
Talented people are the energy and engine of new knowledge, new ideas and new opportunities. The long-term investment announced today means the UK will continue to attract and grow the very best, supporting those who want to solve the most difficult questions whether they are in frontier science, our evolving society or our changing economy.
Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society said:
We are delighted by this crucial investment in science researchers from the UK government. This money will be used to support scientists during crucial stages of their careers, whether they have been identified as future leaders in their fields and are just starting an independent research career, or are well-established, world-leading talent that we want to retain in the UK. This investment in scientists at both stages of their careers is crucial to the continued success of UK science.
Professor David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said:
We are delighted to be able to expand opportunities for international collaboration and early-career research in the humanities and social sciences.
The challenges that we face as a nation and as an international community - from the march of automation to improving productivity – will require collaboration from the very best minds, working across disciplines.
It is timely, therefore, that the national academies are working together to further the UK's reputation as a destination for world-leading research.
We also look forward to supporting further early-career researchers closer to home through the Postdoctoral Fellowship scheme, which is often a vital stepping stone to establishing a successful academic career.
Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences said:
The finest science requires the finest researchers. If we are going to solve the biggest health challenges and harness opportunities, we need to attract and nurture the most talented researchers within our network of trailblazing scientists in the UK.
Excitingly, this funding from The Talent Fund allows the Academy to develop a unique cross-sector leadership scheme that will support today's biomedical and health researchers to become tomorrow's leaders of innovation. It will support talented researchers in the middle of their careers to understand academe, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, the NHS and government and forge new collaborations across these traditional boundaries and enhance their dynamic leadership skills.
The funds will also support 60 Springboard grants for biomedical researchers at the start of their independent careers and eight Rising Stars Professorships, establishing the research careers of talented researchers.
Together these programmes will support researchers to ensure their talent is recognised, supported and nourished throughout their career. These researchers will help further high quality, innovative research to improve the health of our society.
Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering, said:
Investment in engineering research and innovation is vital for the UK's economic and social wellbeing. This funding will help the UK to continue to attract and retain the world-leading engineering talent needed to be at the forefront of developing and applying new technologies.
The government's commitment to supporting highly skilled researchers and engineers is very welcome. Providing career-long support is essential if we are to establish the UK as the leading nation for engineering innovation.