Johnson Plans U.K. Science Superpower With $21 Billion R&D Spend

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is seeking to build the U.K. into a “science superpower,” harnessing 14.9 billion pounds ($21 billion) a year in spending on research and development into solutions for the public good.

The plan to create an Office for Science and Technology Strategy, which Johnson will announce on Monday, highlights Britain’s lead in developing and vaccinating its population against the coronavirus more quickly than many other leading economies. The prime minister wants the agency to find ways to channel discoveries made at universities and research institutions into products and services that help the public.

“With the right direction, pace and backing, we can breathe life into many more scientific and technological breakthroughs that transform the lives of people across the U.K. and the world,” Johnson will say, according to excerpts of his speech released by his office in London.

He’s naming the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance to lead the new office, which will help government ministers and officials set priorities. It will help guide government spending on R&D, which is at its highest level in real terms in four decades.

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