Main Image Credit Kiyoshi Takahase Segundo / Alamy Stock Photo
This conference report summarises discussions from the RUSI event series Advanced Technology and Economic Resilience (ATER). Events included speakers from government, the private sector and civil society, and focused on sovereign capability, partnerships and competition, and geostrategic instability that impact on the UK’s advanced technology horizons.
This report was produced and the ATER event series occurred prior to the creation of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT). Many of the topics covered have substantial relevance to DSIT and RUSI will continue to assess them as part of the Technology and National Security programme.
Advanced technologies are increasingly important to strengthening national security and prosperity. The development and use of technologies including AI, synthetic biology and quantum represent a growing share of GDP and have societal impacts across productivity, safety and security, and international influence, among other areas.
Recent geopolitical events have seen global approaches and attitudes to advanced technology shift markedly. The invasion of Ukraine has led to a raft of sanctions against Russia by the US, the UK and partners, specifically targeting the supply of advanced technologies. However, in certain areas, exports have continued covertly, casting doubt over government control of domestic producers. Meanwhile, US trade restrictions on China targeting advanced semiconductors demonstrate the geostrategic importance of technology supply chains in interstate competition.
Strengthening the UK’s advanced technology ecosystem is part of the current government’s ambition to ‘[secure] our status as a Science and Tech Superpower by 2030’ and will be crucial to meeting other objectives for national security and prosperity. Although some positive initiatives have been launched, including a Cabinet coordinating committee and several digital and tech strategies, outstanding issues remain, including:
- Where to focus government efforts.
- How to prioritise international engagement and partnerships.
- How to improve internal horizon-scanning capabilities.
- How to support research commercialisation.
To address these gaps and deliver its science and technology (S&T) objectives, the government should strategically connect and consolidate its ongoing activities within the public sector and take greater steps to engage partners across industry and civil society.