Jeremy Hunt to announce US-inspired science and technology scheme

Jeremy Hunt will use his autumn statement to announce a US-inspired scheme aimed at developing homegrown science and technology investors focused on ensuring UK innovations have a commercial payoff.

Amid concern in government that Britain too often fails to exploit scientific breakthroughs, the chancellor is expected to announce plans for a fellowship programme that will train a new generation of science and technology venture capitalists.

Hunt believes a modest investment can nurture specialist venture investors who will help boost growth and generate breakthroughs in areas such as vaccines, robotics and artificial intelligence.

The £3m scheme – which will offer up to 20 places – is based on the highly successful Kauffman Foundation in the US, which has trained more than 800 investors who represent funds managing worth more than $1tn.

A Treasury source said: “The British science and technology industry holds the key to exponential growth that will turbocharge our economy for decades to come.

“This scheme will produce a new generation of investment experts that will enable us to meet our science superpower ambitions – drawing on the eminent success of similar programmes across the pond.”

The scheme will be developed by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, and follows a recommendation from the prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology, a body made up of science experts.

Hunt believes his scheme will address the council’s point that the UK’s venture capital industry needs to continue to develop deep science and technology expertise if the government is to achieve its aim of making the UK a science superpower. Traditionally, Britain has lagged behind other countries – particularly the US – in commercially exploiting its scientific breakthroughs.

Treasury sources said the fellowship programme was the latest step in achieving the Mansion House reforms announced by Hunt in July 2023. These seek to unlock more pension capital into high-growth companies, including within the UK’s science and tech sectors, to the benefit of savers and the economy.

A source from the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said: “Science and technology hold the keys to a vast range of benefits and opportunity, from radically improving healthcare to creating whole new industries in fields from AI to quantum.

“But too often, groundbreaking innovations in the UK remain purely academic or are snapped up by investors abroad.

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“By boosting the pool of investors with deep knowledge of the science and tech sectors, we can unlock real financial firepower for the world-class innovation that is happening in the UK and build British-based industries in the technologies of the future.”

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