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UK ministers are drawing up plans for new science-focused schools, billions of pounds in research and development spending and better access to private funding for tech-focused companies, as part of an innovation strategy to be launched next month.

Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wants to make innovation one of the central pillars of the government’s industrial strategy, as the UK seeks to develop world-leading technology and life science sectors.

Officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have drawn up a 10-point plan to make the UK a “global leader in innovation”, according to people familiar with the document, which will be unveiled alongside a “science superpower” speech planned by the prime minister before the summer holidays.

Earlier proposals to create a position within BEIS for an “innovator in residence” — a guru who could disrupt Whitehall thinking and advise officials — have been dropped from the latest version of the document, according to people familiar with the matter.

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It will instead outline plans for the government to build schools focused on science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as setting up a scheme that will allow departments to create competitions in which innovative businesses compete to win funds.

Much of the new strategy focuses on improving regulatory and financial support for private companies to allow UK-based businesses to develop and scale up technologies across a range of areas, in line with a recent report by a deregulation task force led by former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

The document identifies seven “families” of innovation that will take priority in the UK, including quantum, advanced materials, life sciences, genomics, robotics and artificial intelligence.

Plans include helping with business investment and improving access to finance, including looking at rules that have prevented large institutions from investing in fast-growing but risky ventures.

The paper also says that the UK will need to develop pro-innovation policies and cut red tape that is holding back development in some sectors. The strategy will confirm plans to increase annual state investment in R&D to £22bn.

The government has already flagged its intention to invest in high-risk, high-reward science projects through its new Advanced Research and Invention Agency.

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Aria was originally a project of Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s former chief adviser.

Officials also want the UK to attract talented overseas workers with new “innovation” visas, as well as help companies forge partnerships overseas. The plans include setting out innovation chapters in future trade agreements and a “refresh” of the UK’s export strategy.

The plan contains high-level aspirations around developing world-class universities and research institutes.

One person familiar with the document said it would set out objectives that would feed into policymaking in specific sectors.

The person added that the plans were still in draft form and could change before the announcement next month. The innovation paper will sit alongside Kwarteng’s other plans, including a forthcoming net zero emissions strategy.

A government spokesperson said: “We do not comment on individual leaks, but it is no secret that we intend for the UK to stand as a world-leading centre for the development of brilliant ideas, innovation in industry and jobs for the future.”

Source: Telegraf

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