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R&D roadmap promises to cut red tape in mission to ‘level up’ the UK

Government announces Office for Talent to make it easier for researchers to come to Britain

The government’s long-awaited R&D roadmap has promised an easing of restrictions on researchers entering the UK and investment in scientific infrastructure to “power up economic recovery and level up” the country.

Published on 1 July, the roadmap includes plans for an Office for Talent to make it easier for leading global scientists, researchers and innovators to come to the UK.

Based at Number 10 with delivery teams across government departments, the Office for Talent will “ensure the UK’s talent offer is stronger than ever for students, those building their careers, and those who are already world leaders in their fields”, the government said.

The body will begin work immediately to review the effectiveness of the rules and ensure “excellent customer service across the immigration system, so that it is simple, easy and quick”, the government added.

The government also announced plans to bring forward £300 million in funding to upgrade scientific infrastructure across the UK through a World Class Labs funding scheme.

In addition, the roadmap announces the creation of an Innovation Expert Group to review and improve how the government supports research, from idea stage through to product development.

Elsewhere in the document, the government commits to maintaining a close relationship with European partners by “seeking to agree a fair and balanced deal for participation” in European Union framework programmes.

If the UK fails to associate with Horizon Europe, the government will “meet any funding shortfalls and put in place alternative schemes”, it says.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said the roadmap set out “our plan to attract global talent, cut unnecessary red tape and ensure our best minds get the support they need to solve the biggest challenges of our time”.

Science minister Amanda Solloway added: “Coronavirus has shown us the agility, creativity and innovative thinking of our world-leading institutions, scientists and researchers to tackle this disease and save people’s lives. We want to harness this expertise to rejuvenate science and research across the UK, building a future that is greener, safer and healthier.

“The R&D roadmap will help us achieve our ambitions by unleashing the potential of science and research to embrace diversity, resilience and adaptability while tackling our biggest challenges, such as achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”