The Integrated Review sets an ambition for the UK to be a science and technology superpower by 2030. International research collaboration will be central to achieving this objective, and our research sector needs to be both open and secure.
The Government works with research institutions, funding bodies and industry to ensure national security risks are understood and responded to appropriately. I and the Secretary of State for BEIS, as well as our officials, have discussed these issues at all levels within the research community. We expect institutions and individuals to make sure international collaboration is safe, sustainable and secure.
I am therefore pleased to announce that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will this year launch the Research Collaboration Advice Team (RCAT). The new unit will provide an efficient route by which researchers can access advice, as well as seek confidential consultation on sensitive and emerging issues. Its leadership will operate from Manchester and advisers will be distributed across the UK, available to researchers from across the country. Advisers’ responsibilities will be limited to guidance, and they will not have enforcement responsibilities.
The RCAT will be a BEIS unit, but its advisers will work closely with officials in the Departments for Education, International Trade and Defence, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the National Technical Authorities.
This initiative complements a number of measures already in place to manage risk within international collaboration, including:
- guidelines published by Universities UK, on behalf of the sector and with government support, to help universities to tackle security risks related to international collaboration;
- the Trusted Research campaign, run by National Cyber Security Centre and Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure in partnership with BEIS and the Cabinet Office;
- one of the toughest export controls regimes in the world, including guidance recently published by the Department for International Trade specifically for academics;
- the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office’s Academic Technology Approvals Scheme, a pre-visa screening regime expanded to cover a wider set of technologies and all researchers in proliferation sensitive fields;
- guidance from the Intellectual Property Office on protecting Intellectual Property known as the Lambert Toolkit; and
- our work with partners and allies, including the G7, to create international frameworks that support open, secure science collaborations.
My Department is working hard to promote research collaboration, putting science and technology at the heart of our international partnerships. As a package, these measures are enabling this effort by making sure collaboration is safe, sustainable and secure.
This statement has also been made in the House of Lords