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Call for Evidence

Call for evidence

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is conducting an inquiry into the UK’s research and innovation system and whether it can deliver the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a “science superpower”. The committee invites written contributions by Friday 25 March 2022.


The Government plans to make the UK a “science superpower”. It has committed to increasing investment in research and development to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, with a long-term target of 3%. This is in line with comparable OECD countries. The Government has said it will support this target by increasing public research and development funding from £9bn in 2017 to £22bn by 2026/7.[1] In addition, a cabinet committee chaired by the Prime Minister, the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), and the Office of Science and Technology Strategy have been established to promote an overall strategy for scientific and technological development in Government policy.

The NSTC has identified four priority areas for UK science and technology: “the sustainable environment, health and life sciences, national security, defence and space, and a digital and data-driven economy”.[2]

There are ongoing reviews of various aspects of the science and technology system. These include a review of the functioning of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the second Sir Paul Nurse review of the UK research, development and innovation landscape, and a review of research bureaucracy. Many of these reviews are due to publish in the coming months; they should help answer the question as to whether the UK’s research, development and innovation institutions need reform to achieve the Government’s aims for UK science. The Committee will examine the findings of these reviews, and the broader issue of scientific skills and careers in the future.

Purpose of the inquiry

It is not clear what it would mean for the UK to be a “science superpower”, nor how an overall strategy for science and technology will be coordinated across Government and interact with the research and innovation delivery system. The UK has many respected academic institutions, but this is only part of what is needed for a high-skills, high-tech economy. It remains unclear which sectors the Government will focus on and invest in. It is not apparent how the vision of the UK as a science superpower will be integrated with other areas of national policy, or economic and industrial strategy. Nor is it clear how the Haldane principle, the idea “that decisions on individual research proposals are best taken following an evaluation of the quality and likely impact of the proposals (such as a peer review process)”, will be protected.[3]

The Committee seeks to understand what the Government’s ambition for the UK to be a science superpower means in practice; what a viable strategy for the UK’s science and technology sectors would look like; how to ensure a strategy endures and is not overturned when governments change; what contribution state, private and international funding should make; whether science objectives could be better supported across Government policy; what the UK can learn from other countries; and how balancing ‘top-down’ messages about Government priorities with ‘bottom-up’ curiosity driven research will work in this new landscape with a stronger focus on a national science and innovation strategy.


The Committee is seeking evidence on the following questions (there is no requirement to answer all questions in your submission):

1. What would it mean for the UK to be a “science superpower?”

  • What would a “science superpower” look like?
  • Does the Government have a coherent strategy and sufficient existing policies to make the UK a “science superpower?”
  • What measures should determine whether the UK has become a “science superpower”?
  • Are the Office for Science and Technology Strategy's four scientific and technological priorities the right ones for the UK?
  • What could be done to ensure that the Government’s science and technology strategy is long-term and pursued across administrations? What have been the consequences of a frequently changing science policy?

2. Are the right structures in place in Government to implement a science and technology strategy?

  • How should Government coordinate science policy across different departments, with different strategic priorities such as levelling up? What role could the National Science and Technology Council play?
  • How should the National Science and Technology Council and the Office for Science and Technology Strategy interact with existing bodies like the UKRI Council and the Council for Science and Technology?
  • Are the right levers and mechanisms in place for the delivery of a science and technology strategy?
  • Who should be accountable for the delivery of a science and technology strategy?
  • What ministerial representation should science and technology have?

3. Does the introduction of a science and technology strategy challenge the Haldane principle and UKRI’s commitment to fund outstanding research?

  • Should the Government take further steps to preserve and enhance the Haldane principle?
  • How should the Government balance support for bottom up, curiosity-driven research with support for research focused on its strategic priorities?

4. Is the UK realising the potential of its research investment?

  • Do bureaucratic processes hinder research and development in the UK? Are there examples of where these could be removed without compromising oversight?
  • Could the bureaucracy reducing principles of the Advanced Research and Invention Agency be extended to other public sector research establishments?
  • How can the Government better incentivise and support interdisciplinary research and innovation?
  • Does the Government’s strategic direction and the current allocation of research funding align with the UK’s scientific and economic strengths?

5. How should state funding for research and development be allocated between different organisations, who should make that decision and by what criteria?

  • Should Government departments commission and fund more research and development directly?
  • What role should public sector research establishments play?
  • What role should universities play?
  • How should state funding be used to leverage private sector funding?

6. What more should be done to encourage private-sector investment in research and development in the UK?

  • What policies could incentivise private sector research spending in the UK? Are there international examples the UK could learn from?
  • What more could be done to incentivise collaborations between academics and industry? Are there barriers preventing this collaboration that could be removed?
  • What can be learnt from local innovation ecosystems, such as the Cambridge Science Park?
  • What stage of the pipeline, from innovation to industry, is presenting the most significant problems for commercialising discoveries in the UK?
  • What contribution should public procurement make to achieving the aims of the science and technology strategy?

7. How well does the UK collaborate on research with international partners and what can it learn from other countries?

  • In which areas of science and technology is collaboration, or negotiating access to existing projects, more appropriate than competition or seeking comparative advantage?

[1] Autumn Budget and Spending Review 2021: A Stronger Economy for the British People ( page 4

[2] Office for Science and Technology Strategy - GOV.UK (

[3] Higher Education and Research Act 2017, clause 103 (3)


ANNEX: Guidance for Submissions

This is a public call for written evidence to be submitted to the Committee. The deadline for submissions is 11.59pm on Friday 25 March 2022.

Written submissions should be submitted online, as a Word document, using the written submission form available at This page also provides guidance on submitting evidence. If you have difficulty submitting online, please contact the Committee staff by email at or by telephoning 020 7219 5750.

Short, concise submissions are preferred. Scientific and technical content should be accessible to non-specialist readers. Responses should not be longer than five sides of A4 in size 12 font. There is no requirement to answer all questions in your submission. You may tell us about issues that we have not specifically asked about, but that are relevant to the topic of the inquiry.

All submissions made through the written submission form will be acknowledged automatically by email. Once you have received acknowledgement that the evidence has been accepted you will receive a further email, and at this point you may publicise or publish your evidence yourself. In doing so you must indicate that it was prepared for the Committee, and you should be aware that your publication or re-publication of your evidence may not be protected by parliamentary privilege.

Evidence which is accepted by the Committee may be published online at any stage; when it is so published it becomes subject to parliamentary copyright and is protected by parliamentary privilege. The Committee cannot accept any submissions that have not been prepared specifically in response to this call for evidence, or that have been published elsewhere.

Personal contact details will be removed from evidence before publication, but will be retained by the Committee Office and used for specific purposes relating to the Committee’s work, for instance to seek additional information.

Persons who submit written evidence, and others, may be invited to give oral evidence. Oral evidence is usually given in public at Westminster and broadcast online; transcripts are produced and published online. Persons invited to give oral evidence will be notified separately of the procedure to be followed and the topics likely to be discussed.

Substantive communications to the Committee about the inquiry should be addressed through the Clerk of the Committee, whether or not they are intended to constitute formal evidence to the Committee.

 This is a public call for evidence. Please bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may not have received a copy directly.

Diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome. If you think someone you know would have an interest in contributing to the inquiry, please pass this on to them.

You may follow the progress of the inquiry at

This call for written evidence has now closed.

Go back to Delivering a UK science and technology strategy Inquiry