Jeremy Hunt will use his Autumn Statement to announce a US-inspired scheme aimed at developing homegrown science and technology investors focused on securing a commercial return for British innovations.
Amid government concerns that Britain is too often failing to capitalize on scientific breakthroughs, the chancellor is expected to announce plans for a scholarship program that will train a new generation of science and technology venture capitalists.
Hunt believes that a modest investment can attract specialist venture investors who will help boost growth and create 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 representing funds managing more than $1tn.
A Treasury source said: “The UK 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 professionals who will enable us to fulfill our scientific superpower ambitions – drawing on the eminent success of similar programs across the pond.”
The scheme will be developed by the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology and follows a recommendation from the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, a body made up of natural science experts.
Hunt believes his plan will address the council’s point that Britain’s venture capital industry must continue to develop deep science and technology expertise if the government is to achieve its goal of making Britain a science superpower. Traditionally, the UK has lagged behind other countries – particularly the US – in the commercial exploitation of their scientific breakthroughs.
Treasury sources said the bursary program was the latest step in achieving the Mansion House reforms announced by Hunt in July 2023. These seek to free up more pension capital for high-growth businesses, including in the UK’s science and technology sectors, to benefit savers and the economy.
A Department for Science, Innovation and Technology source said: “Science and technology hold the keys to a wide range of benefits and opportunities, from radically improving healthcare to creating entirely new industries in areas from AI to quantum.
“However, all too often breakthrough innovations in the UK remain purely academic or are snapped up by investors overseas.
“By boosting the pool of investors with deep knowledge of the science and technology sectors, we can unleash real financial firepower for world-class innovation happening in the UK and build UK-based industries in the technologies of the future.”