It’s great, genuinely, to be right here at the moment to speak about considered one of our best and most vital challenges, which is the levelling up agenda.
As you possibly can inform from my accent, I’m not from down South. And as you in all probability additionally know from my bio, I don’t have a level, in reality, I very sadly left college after my A-levels with out actually having any main success in them.
Subsequently, I’ve spent my complete profession in a wide range of companies and latterly, politics.
And subsequently, which means I’m considerably distinctive, so far as science ministers go.
Nonetheless, science and analysis have at all times been vital to me. I’ve had a life-long fascination with engineering – impressed by the wonders of the Industrial Revolution – which I’ve bored my kids with for a few years – they usually stud the panorama of the Midlands, from the Grand Central Railway to Ironbridge and certainly the wonderful Silk Mill in Derby, which I’m reliably knowledgeable is the primary ever manufacturing facility within the UK.
And, had I been extra targeted at college, I’ll properly have ended up in a profession in engineering – persevering with that nice Midlands custom.
So, science and innovation have at all times been one thing that issues a terrific deal to me, it’s an agenda which is genuinely near my coronary heart. One which shapes and defines me as an individual, and likewise as your minister for science, analysis and innovation.
Anyone who is aware of me will know that I’ve by no means shied away from innovating all through my profession – and I’ve tried to foster creativity and innovation in the entire locations that I’ve labored.
And all through my life, I’ve had a deep appreciation of simply how essential science and innovation are to our future as a rustic.
And it’s been confirmed by what we’ve all seen within the final 6 months or so.
From the wonderful partnership between the College of Liverpool and Unilever on new supplies for industrial processes, to the local weather analysis being executed by the British Antarctic Survey, who I visited not too long ago they usually talked about their research of fifty,000 yr outdated polar ice, and I really received to carry some in my hand. And because it melted, I listened to air from 50,000 years in the past. That’s simply so extremely thrilling.
These are important programmes, not only for the financial advantages that they convey, but additionally for tackling the main challenges, reminiscent of local weather change, that face the world.
Science, analysis and innovation will assist us construct a greater world for the longer term – and I really consider that.
And, in fact, this does have an effect on all people, in ways in which we already take without any consideration.
I can keep in mind my first ever calculator – an enormous advance from the slide rule that I used for my O Ranges! However my granddaughter will develop up surrounded by expertise and these technological wonders – which, after I was a baby, may solely be present in science fiction within the pages of Isaac Asimov.
So science and innovation will, I truthfully consider, permit us to construct a extra sustainable world.
It can give us a safer world.
And it’ll give us a fairer world.
Underpinned by new information, and its wonderful worth and affect on the world.
However, whereas we’re all surrounded by the wonders of expertise, we should not overlook that for many individuals, our analysis and growth sector is an unfamiliar place.
It’s a completely totally different stroll of life.
It’s seen as a sector that enriches the main cities in London and the South East, however leaves little for the remainder of the nation.
I need each particular person in my constituency, and all through the nation, to be touched by the advances in science and expertise.
However the challenges and alternatives in Derby are very totally different to these in Oxford, Cambridge, or London.
So, I’m calling on you, as scientists, to higher perceive the vary of challenges and alternatives throughout the whole nation.
This contains having a greater understanding of the lives led by individuals from extra numerous backgrounds than are represented in your occupation.
And I need you to place your minds to analysis initiatives which immediately handle totally different individuals’s wants.
Put merely, we have to renew the social contract for analysis.
This implies doing 2 issues.
First, we have to make it as simple as doable – as engaging as doable – for the outcomes of our scientific and analysis system to be translated into higher jobs,
and a greater high quality of life for extra individuals, everywhere in the UK.
For this, we’ll have to work collectively to foster a wealthy and vibrant ecosystem of innovation, to attach analysis and business, lecturers and policymakers, and establishments and civil society.
We’ll want to make use of our immense capability for creating new information because the gas for our restoration, constructing our understanding of locations into our decision-making in any respect ranges, and attracting the personal funding to ship development.
And we’ll additionally have to develop the fashions of coaching and expertise that permit extra, and extra, individuals to profit from a extra vibrant information financial system, and to take part in it.
Second, we have to deepen the interplay between science and society.
This implies, for me, seizing each out there alternative to encourage much more individuals in regards to the unbelievable work we’re doing within the UK. Constructing pleasure in regards to the wonderful issues that we’re doing.
And interesting individuals within the work – whether or not that’s the households and communities who’re affected by science, or the individuals who can enrich our understanding of points, or those that stand to profit most from extra inclusive engagement.
And I consider we have to construct belief in what we’re doing. As a result of on this age of flat-earthers and anti-vaxxers, it’s ever extra vital that we construct belief within the information that comes from science and analysis. And construct mutual belief between these doing analysis and people affected by it.
The crucial success issue is your imaginative and prescient,
and your software.
Now let me flip to an vital level. It appears to me there are some individuals concerned in science who stay deeply purchased into notions of exclusivity.
Now, don’t get me flawed. There’s a actual worth in eager to be one of the best – and in taking daring motion to make sure that we might be one of the best and may succeed within the UK.
And we mustn’t ever undermine that.
Certainly, in my opinion, we should strengthen it.
However by obsessing over slim indicators of success, we run the danger that our funding and evaluation techniques change into disconnected from the varied wants of our nation.
And we threat neglecting the contributions that so many individuals already make to our R&D sector throughout this nation.
From lab technicians to directors. From business employees scientists and technologists, to innovators in all walks of life.
To these adopting and utilizing applied sciences, in addition to these inventing them.
And the native leaders and establishments across the UK who’ve the networks and insights that deliver our R&D system to life.
It’s completely important that we now begin to harness the potential of extra individuals throughout our R&D system.
To do that, we have to embody different types of individuals from all kinds of locations in our discussions.
We’ll have to collaborate throughout boundaries and borders to seek out one of the best options.
Meaning constructing higher interfaces between authorities, funders, establishments and native leaders.
Put merely, we should be extra prepared to hear, and extra prepared to work collectively.
All of us want a change in mindset.
Now, I do know there may be extra to be executed to the levelling up debate than the issues I’ve simply talked about.
We in fact have to have correct, knowledgeable debates about one of the best methods to attain our goals and the best position for R&D funding.
That’s precisely why I established a Place Advisory Group to assist develop our Place Technique for R&D.
However we mustn’t overlook that ‘levelling up’ is about far more than straight economics, or funding fashions, or winners and losers.
It’s about how science, analysis and innovation may also help us to change into a extra inclusive financial system, and a much less divided nation.
It’s about how we will safe equality of alternative and embrace variety and distinction.
It’s about how we will strengthen connections throughout our nation in order that extra individuals and locations can profit from the UK’s standing as a science superpower.
And it’s about constructing belief and respect.
Briefly, it’s about constructing the sort of nation all of us wish to be and might be a part of.
I’m excited by this chance, and consider that collectively we will do that. The one approach is up, for us all.