A new science and technology department has been established in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak divided the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) into three departments on February 7, creating the Departments of Science, Innovation, and Energy Security, Net Zero, Technology, Trade and Business.
As secretary of state, a cabinet-level position, former universities minister Michelle Donelan will be in charge of the new science department. The new department employs George Freeman, who previously held the position of minister of state in charge of science at BEIS.
The prime minister’s office said that, a dedicated Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology will drive the innovation that will deliver improved public services, create new jobs that are better paid, and grow the economy. The United Kingdom’s status as the world’s most innovative economy can be assured by having a single department devoted to translating scientific and technical advancements into useful, implementable solutions to their problems.
The move was generally well received by the scientific community in the UK. Daniel Rathbone, assistant director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering in London, says, this is another sign of the importance the government places on science and innovation. However, it is essential that the time and resources required to advance the government’s promising agenda are not compromised by the practicalities of making changes in Whitehall.
Rathbone emphasized that the new department must address two major issues, including access to European research programs and tax relief for research and development.
According to Kieron Flanagan, who studies science and technology policy at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and studies the BEIS super-ministry, breaking up the BEIS could mean that the government pays more attention to science and innovation.