Future Leaders Speech

Today, the Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Minister announced the first 41 of UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) “Future Leaders Fellowships” in a speech at the London School of Economics. In this first in a series of speeches on “Reaching the 2.4%”, Chris Skidmore MP focused on the importance of ensuring a strong pipeline of talent in achieving the Government’s target of more than doubling current investment in research and development (R&D) by 2027, noting skills shortages within STEM careers.

The Minister outlined areas that will require future support and some current government efforts to:

  • Retain domestic and international talent;
  • Fund the programmes we need;
  • Boost skills;
  • Improve careers;
  • And strengthen the links between academia and industry.

Dr David Pye, Honorary Policy Officer of the Biochemical Society said:

“Congratulations to the newly appointed fellows, who represent the breadth of the UK research base and include several working in the molecular biosciences. We support the drive to encourage links between academia and industry, alongside continued investment into fundamental research. We welcome the Minister’s recognition of the scale of investment needed to achieve the Government’s ambitious R&D spending target, and the importance of innovative, highly-skilled researchers of all career stages who are fundamental to the UK’s science base. We hope to see this support reflected in the upcoming spending review and in changes to the UK’s immigration system post-Brexit, ensuring the UK remains an attractive destination for world-class molecular bioscience research.”

In his speech today, the Minister highlighted some of the challenges in academic careers and, importantly, the underrepresentation of both Black and Ethnic Minority researchers and women in STEM careers. This must be addressed to enable UK research to reach its fullest potential in addressing today’s grand challenges.”

Comments from the Biochemical Society on the inception of the Fellowship scheme in June 2018 can be found here.

Dr Sarah Main of the Campaign for Science and Engineering wrote about the increase in R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 in The Guardian last week.