The UK and US have announced their intention to deepen longstanding ties in science and technology, creating what the British government describes as “a new era of strategic cooperation in the field”.
In the wake of the G7 summit in Cornwall this week, the two countries have agreed to pursue a new science and technology partnership under what is being called the “new Atlantic Charter”, with the aim of creating jobs.
The original Atlantic Charter was a statement of Anglo-American principles for a hoped-for post-war world, made in 1941 by President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Among the key clauses of that statement were the expressed intention to lower trade barriers, and support for the right to self-determination.
Ironically, the 1941 Charter embraced the idea of European countries (including Germany and Italy) being given access to markets on equal terms, without punitive trade barriers. Johnson, who styles himself on Churchill, could be accused of having put barriers back up, post-Brexit.
According to the announcement from the government this week, security is at the heart of the renewed 2021 partnership, which will explore key areas of cooperation, including research, innovation, and commercialisation, along with defence, law enforcement, and shared intelligence.
The resilience and security of critical supply chains, more efficient, greener battery technologies, and emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are at the core of the deal, with the aim of improving accessibility to, and the flow of, data.
The partners have also announced they are working towards a statement of intent on realising the potential of quantum technologies. Separately, the UK and US are already investing £1 billion apiece in national quantum programmes, in the UK’s case via a 10-year public/private package.
Healthcare is also on the partners’ radar. The statement said,
“The countries hope to combine their expertise to tackle global challenges such as cancer, pandemic preparedness, antimicrobial resistance, and climate change, including through closer coordination between the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and through closer collaboration between US and UK senior science and technology advisers.”
Digital Secretary, Oliver Dowden said,
“In the 80 years since the Atlantic Charter was signed, technology has changed the world beyond recognition. But the goals that underpin it still bind the US and UK together today: support for democracy, open societies, and free markets.
“Today’s announcement marks a new era of cooperation with our closest ally, in which we commit to using technology to create prosperity and guarantee the safety and security of our citizens for years to come.”
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added,
“The United States is our closest ally and most important research partner – a partnership which harnesses the power of the free market, science, and new technology to address some of humanity’s greatest challenges, from antimicrobial resistance to preparing for future pandemics.
“The landmark new partnership announced today will deepen those all-important ties and ensure Anglo-American research can continue to develop new technologies to generate wealth and prosperity for the good of mankind for generations to come.”
The government will invest £14.9 billion in R&D this year: a significant step towards its commitment to increase that investment to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2027.
The figure includes £200 million for the Net Zero Innovation portfolio, one of the key focuses of this week’s G7 summit.