25 Oct 2022

Event round-up: techUK in conversation with Sir Patrick Vallance

On 20 September 2022 techUK was delighted to host an in-conversation event with Sir Patrick Vallance, UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser and National Technology Adviser, and Sue Daley, techUK’s Director of Technology and Innovation.

You can watch the full conversation here, or read our summary below:

Please note that the below is a summary of the event, and readers are encouraged to watch the recording to understand the full details of the discussion.

Sue opened the session by framing the conversation around the importance of science and technology to the UK’s economic growth, prosperity, productivity, and our place in the world.

Sir Patrick was clear that science and technology has a central role to play in modern government and is key to safeguarding our national security and boosting economic growth.

This relies on a vibrant private sector, including both large companies and a thriving SME and scale-up ecosystem, and all the supporting ingredients for innovation - from talent to infrastructure.

Sue and Sir Patrick discussed how to achieve a consistent approach to science and technology across successive parliaments and the role of the Office for Science and Technology Strategy (OSTS).

Ingredients for Innovation

The discussion moved on to key factors for building the UK’s science and technology ecosystem.

Sir Patrick argued that the UK’s foundation of science and technology is very strong, and our start-up performance has been improving, but there is still work to do on scaling companies to be competitive in a global market.

Work is ongoing in OSTS to identify key issues (e.g., barriers to scale-up investment, public sector procurement, skills, infrastructure, and regulation) and develop a consistent and long-term approach that will give investors and companies confidence in the UK.

Science and Tech Ecosystem

Sir Patrick set out a role for government focused on creating the conditions for businesses to be successful, including a critically important role in funding early discovery science across universities and research institutes. Industry can then take forward that research to develop innovative products and services, provided we break down barriers to innovation across the science and tech ecosystem.  

OSTS is looking at a whole-system approach that looks beyond R&D to include deployment, diffusion and uptake of technology across the economy. Sir Patrick noted that science and technology was at the heart of the Integrated Review, and praised the own-collaborate-access framework and the decision to take a strategic approach on key technologies and sectors.

The discussion turned to international best practice and strategies for improving links between industry, academia and government.

What next?

Sir Patrick highlighted the importance of continuous dialogue with industry and the need for communities like techUK to consistently advocate our priorities to government.

The session closed with a discussion of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) and its mission to tackle difficult problems using the whole UK science and technology ecosystem.

You can watch the Q&A on the recording linked above.


Sir Patrick Vallance Biography

Patrick Vallance FRS FMedSci FRCP is the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA), National Technology Adviser (NTA) and Head of the Government Science and Engineering (GSE) Profession.

 Before joining the UK Civil Service in 2018 Patrick was Global President of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), following previous roles as Senior Vice President, Medicines Discovery and Development and Head of Drug Discovery. During his period as head of R&D many new medicines were approved for use worldwide, for diseases ranging from cancer and immune diseases to asthma and HIV.

Prior to joining GSK in 2006, he was a clinical academic, Professor of Medicine and head of the Division of Medicine at UCL. His personal research was in the area of diseases of blood vessels and endothelial biology, he has over 20 years’ experience of basic and clinical research, and he was a consultant physician in the NHS