Billionaire Sir James Dyson has said the UK government is “not getting there” in reference to its ambition to make the country a science superpower by 2030.
The Dyson founder said the UK is “massively underproducing engineers” and that there is no drive to make science a large part of UK culture.
Boris Johnson has vowed the UK would become a science superpower by 2030, with promises to boost research and development spending by billions of pounds.
There are also plans to create a new multi-billion pound science research fund, after the EU blocked the UK’s entry to the €95bn Horizon project due to deadlocked negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
However, the FT reports that this programme is also at risk from being cut as the Treasury tries to cut costs.
When asked about the UK’s science ambitions, Dyson told the Mail on Sunday: “We’re not getting there, because we’re massively underproducing engineers. We’re not making engineering an important part of our culture – and science an important part of our culture. So while we talk about it, we don’t do anything.
“And we’re not encouraging people to make things here.”
Dyson said that the UK has a shortage of more than 60,000 engineers per year.
He said that he’d told this to Johnson and education secretary Nadhim Zahawi, while also suggesting that the UK should consider making engineering degrees free.
A government spokesperson said: ”We are taking concrete steps to deliver on our science superpower ambitions – including through our pledge to invest £14.9bn in research and development in this financial year – the highest level in four decades.
“Only this week, the Prime Minister signed a landmark science agreement with New Zealand – widening and deepening our post-Brexit global science programmes.”
The inventor was a strong supporter of Brexit, however he still opted to move Dyson’s headquarters to Singapore in 2019.
He told Times Radio last week that people need to “be a bit patient” for Brexit benefits.