‘…the technologies are already available. Investment in research and development will deliver new clean technologies, while policies to create markets will ensure that they are deployed.’
The UK Government has published a letter from its Council for Science and Technology which sets out advice on encouraging scale up investment in innovative science and technology companies.
The letter was sent to the UK’s Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, on the 23 September, but was made public ahead of the COP26 Science and Innovation Day; held on 9 November. The letter, which is signed by the Council’s Co-chairs; Sir Patrick Vallance and Lord Browne of Madingley, sets out recommendations which look at ‘cultural, behavioural and structural changes needed to help unlock scale up investment.’
The letter states ‘Our advice targets investments over £100 million where there is a significant funding gap. Addressing this gap could propel our most innovative companies to become world leaders.’
The recommendations set out by the Council include: ‘Working with a range of industry and academic partners, with the Government supporting the development of new specialist education and training programmes to build understanding of the value of intangible assets, science and technology expertise and entrepreneurial experience among UK investors and asset owners.’ The letter also calls for encouragement of a ‘…flow of STEM PhDs into the venture capital sector. This should be linked to existing UK Research and Innovation Fellowship programmes and wider UK science PhD training programmes to increase awareness.’
The letter concludes with a plan to carry out further study to better understand the differences in support for science and technology companies to scale up in the UK compared with companies in the US and other countries.
The important role for science and technology in tackling climate change was the focus of the Science and Innovation Day at COP26. In his role as Government Chief Scientist, Sir Patrick Vallance underlined the critical role of science and innovation in ‘…enabling every country to access the tools its needs to immediately reduce emissions in line with the Paris temperature targets, and to adapt to the effects of climate change that we are already seeing,’
Young chemists are creating innovative solutions | Image of the SCI COP26 Youth Panel
Several announcements were made on the Science and Innovation Day. These included the launch of the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA) which brings together more than 90 organisations from 30 economies. The ARA will work to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities heavily impacted by climate change. In the area of decarbonisation, Canada, Germany, India, the UAE, and the UK, will work together under the Industrial Deep Decarbonisation Initiative to create new markets for low carbon steel and concrete. In addition, the UK COP26 Presidency, in partnership with Italy, is setting up a new global partnership to leverage science and innovation to ‘address key challenges blocking the path to a climate-resilient, net-zero future.’
Commenting Sir Patrick said: ‘…the technologies are already available. Investment in research and development will deliver new clean technologies, while policies to create markets will ensure that they are deployed.’
During the first week of COP26, SCI’s Youth Panel event heard how young chemists are working on innovative climate change solutions.