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How to get to 2.4 per cent

The UK government is looking for all the help it can get to raise R&D spending to the level achieved by its peers, says Ehsan Masood.

An unintended consequence of Brexit is that it has given the UK’s science policy community a renewed and quite urgent sense of purpose. One very concrete example of this is the collective effort now underway to figure out how to reach the government’s target to increase R&D spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.

Such a target is not entirely new. It was floated in 2004 as part of former Labour chancellor Gordon Brown’s 10-year science plan but, as we know, it was never implemented. The lead civil servant at the time was a certain John Kingman. He has since learned a valuable lesson: a target needs all the relevant parts of the Whitehall machine and external stakeholders working to a delivery plan. Kingman, now chairman of UK Research and Innovation, doesn’t want to make the same mistake twice.

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