Five critical technologies that are key to the UK’s innovative future

  • By Rikhil Shah
    • Jul 24, 2023
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Earlier this year, the government unveiled its Science and Technology Framework to transform the UK economy, create high-paying future jobs, enhance security, and significantly improve people’s lives through science, innovation, and technology.

Engineering is at the heart of the framework, propelling innovation through designing and developing new technologies, systems, and processes that solve real-world problems and advance UK society. As such, the government aims to position the UK as a leader in game-changing technologies and has backed this ambition up with over £370 million in funding.

By becoming “a global science and technology superpower by 2030”, they aim to create the right conditions for industry innovation and world-leading research and development through key measures such as “boosting private and public investment in R&D for economic growth”, “financing innovative science and technology start-ups” and “identifying and achieving strategic advantage in critical technologies”.So, what does the government see as the critical technologies that will help deliver high-paid jobs of the future, drive economic growth in cutting-edge industries, and improve people’s lives?

The framework reviewed 50 technologies, identifying five that they deemed for future growth and prosperity. These five critical technologies include:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Engineering biology
  • Future telecommunications
  • Semiconductors
  • Quantum technologies

How will the government support these critical technologies?

Through targeted investments, regulatory updates and the support of R&D Tax Credits, the government is trying to foster an environment conducive to breakthroughs and advancements in these critical technologies.

The government has already set a target of increasing overall public and private sector R&D expenditure to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, but they’ve also created individual strategies for each critical technology:

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI involves machines performing tasks that typically require human intelligence, especially those that learn from data.

The government is trying to create a pro-innovation approach to AI regulation with its National AI Strategy, which is designed to make strategic investments and long-term planning for the AI ecosystem. The strategy also intends to guide the transition towards an AI-centric economy, leveraging UK-based innovation and ensuring that the benefits of AI are distributed across all sectors and regions. Furthermore, the plan aims to set up firm governance of AI technologies.

Engineering Biology

This field applies rigorous engineering principles to the design of biological systems. In May 2023, the government produced a report on engineering biology which identified that outputs on engineering biology have slowed with fewer grants and lower investment. To counter this, the report recommended that the government invest in R&D programmes and infrastructure, establishing market incentives to promote solutions aligned with national objectives, updating regulatory frameworks, and promoting standards for responsible innovation.

Future Telecommunications

This field focuses on the evolution of infrastructure for digitised data and communication. In April 2023, the government released its Wireless infrastructure strategy, outlining R&D priorities for future telecommunications. One of the key recommendations was for large-scale investments in R&D, with a pillar dedicated to focusing R&D on UK 6G, with commitments to providing new funding for innovation in this area.


These unique electronic components form the backbone of the devices and technology we use daily. The government released their National semiconductor strategy in May 2023, which targeted securing the UK’s position as a world leader in semiconductor R&D, design and IP, and compound semiconductors.

Quantum Technologies

These devices and systems leverage quantum mechanics to provide capabilities beyond the reach of traditional machines. The government released their National quantum strategy, aiming to make the UK one of the world leaders in this powerful technology. It outlined a commitment to investing £2.5 billion in quantum R&D over the next decade, starting in 2024.

What does this mean for investment in research and development?

By 2030, the government wants to drive significant private sector investment in R&D. This builds on already committed public sector investment, including plans to invest £20 billion in R&D in 2024-2025.

The government also plans to boost R&D investment outside the Greater South East by at least 40%. This move is hoped to enhance productivity, job opportunities, and living standards in these regions. As well as this, they aim to facilitate the translation of research into practical applications through targeted support for local innovation clusters.

How can R&D Tax Credits support these critical technologies?

The overarching plan that covers the individual strategies is to foster the right conditions for industry innovation and world-leading R&D. A key element of this delivering this is through R&D Tax Credits.

Tax credits significantly reduce the overall cost of investing in R&D, enabling businesses to engage in innovative activities that can lead to breakthroughs and substantial growth. By utilising R&D Tax Credits, companies working on critical technologies can leverage financial support to drive their research and development efforts.

At Leyton, we have a wealth of experience helping cutting-edge tech innovators maximise their savings through R&D Tax Relief.

Our team of highly skilled consultants, many of whom have hands-on experience in the fields of engineering and technology, possess an in-depth understanding of both the industries and the complex world of R&D tax legislation. This blend of technical and financial expertise uniquely positions us to identify qualifying R&D activities and expenditures, often uncovering eligible projects that clients may have overlooked.

Speak to an expert today.


Rikhil Shah

Technical Consultant

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