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UK government creates dedicated science department in reshuffle

Image: Number 10 [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0], via Flickr

Rishi Sunak splits up business department and appoints Michelle Donelan as science secretary

A new government department for science, innovation and technology has been created by UK prime minister Rishi Sunak, as part of a mini cabinet reshuffle.

Michelle Donelan, who until this morning was the culture secretary, has been appointed as secretary of state at the new department.

“Having a single department focused on turning scientific and technical innovations into practical, appliable solutions to the challenges we face will help make sure the UK is the most innovative economy in the world,” Number 10 Downing Street said in a statement.

The reshuffle sees science, innovation and technology take a more prominent role in government, with a seat at the cabinet table.

Donelan was universities minister under former prime minister Boris Johnson and was promoted to education secretary for two days during the crisis at the end of Johnson’s premiership.

Science minister George Freeman has been overlooked for promotion to the cabinet, and it is not yet clear which roles he and industry science minister Nus Ghani will now hold.

The shake-up sees the former Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, under which R&D policy was set, split across three new departments:

  • Department for Science, Innovation and Technology
  • Department for Energy Security and Net Zero
  • Department for Business and Trade, merged with the former Department for International Trade

Former business secretary Grant Schapps will become secretary of state for energy, while Kemi Badenoch will be secretary of state for business and trade.