Science Minister Sam Gyimah MP met with leading academics and tech disruptors in Boston, Houston and Washington DC to announce a further research partnership in medical technology, and learn from the industry.
He also revealed plans to embark on a further fact-finding mission to Texas in November, accompanied with academics and business representatives from the UK’s life sciences sector. The party will set meetings with American colleagues, and “seek out opportunities for global innovation” by exploring how the UK can more easily infiltrate US markets.
“Science has no borders. By collaborating with our US colleagues, we are pooling our power to find the answers to the biggest science questions of today and making the most of the inventions of tomorrow,” Gyimah said.
The government said the science minister used the opportunity to learn how academic and business partnerships between the two nations are commercialising and marketing the latest innovations.
As part of the trip, Gyimah met with a firm called LearnLaunch in Boston to learn about emerging educational technology, before visiting aerospace startups in Houston and NASA’s senior leadership at the Johnson Space Centre.
“Building on our reputation as a global force in science is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy and we will continue to learn with and from international innovators to push new boundaries,” he continued.
The initial cooperation agreement, announced in September last year, included a £65 million UK investment for research into the structures and origin of the universe.
Given the spectre of Brexit hanging over the UK’s science and technology industries, the onus on the UK government to explore trade and investment opportunities beyond the European Union (EU) has never been greater.
According to research last year despite the majority of UK businesses feeling optimistic about growth, a significant proportion had decided to withhold IT investment, and in many cases freeze budgets entirely in light of the looming uncertainty.
Brexit has even led to claims the UK will suffer a ‘brain drain’ if the final deal negotiated with the EU misses aspects such as intelligence sharing. Meanwhile, Nesta research shows the UK’s skills shortage could be exacerbated.
Forging closer ties with industries beyond the confines of Europe, a process which involve trips such as that scheduled for November, is something the government is hoping to do more to ensure any post-Brexit economic risks are mitigated.