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Tim Peake and McLaren’s Ron Dennis join first DSIT startup board meeting

Written by Wed 28 Jun 2023

Picture of Chloe Smith and Tim Peake

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) has held its inaugural meeting for its startup board. The collaborative event brought together leading figures from the science and tech world, including former astronaut Tim Peake and McLaren founder Ron Dennis, alongside five other esteemed members.

The meeting on Monday marked the first gathering of this group since their appointment in April. It provided an opportunity for the board members to share insights on a range of strategic topics that will inform government policy and industry direction​.

A key focus of the meeting addressed the evolution of the UK’s regulatory policy on AI, with discussions centred on how the DSIT can play a vital role in the government’s ambitions for AI, both domestically and internationally. The board also explored how AI technologies could be utilised across various sectors to improve productivity and stimulate growth, including in public services.

In addition to this, the board members exchanged thoughts on how DSIT could become a model of innovation within the government, reflecting the impact that the board members have made in the science and technology sectors.

Speaking on his appointment as a board member, Tim Peake CMG said: “I am very excited to be joining the board and helping support the UK in becoming a global leader in science and technology. I hope to bring a wealth of experience of how science, technology and innovation are critical to both learning and development. This is part of my mission to inspire the next generation of science and technology professionals as the UK ramps up its ambitions to compete on a global stage.”

During the meeting, the startup board members also explored how DSIT could utilise analysis and insight to augment its impact on the general public and the science and technology ecosystems in the UK​.

The startup board was set up with the vision of achieving the department’s goal of making the UK a science and technology superpower by 2030. Board members include the aforementioned Tim Peake and Ron Dennis, as well as Shonnel Malani, Baroness Alison Wolf CBE, Melissa Di Donato, Saul Klein, and Professor Jason Chin FRS.

“I am looking forward to driving an increased level of private investment in British technology further promoting the UK as the most innovative country in the world. With DSIT, we will make the UK the best place to start, develop and grow a technology business whilst developing and nurturing the most exciting talent,” said Melissa Di Donato, former CEO of SUSE Software Solutions.

As non-executive board members, the group will offer strategic guidance and insight for the DSIT over the next nine months. Their role is to support the DSIT’s mission to drive economic growth, create jobs, and improve the lives of every Briton through advancements in science, technology, and innovation.

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan MP, highlighted the significance of having ‘the best and brightest minds from the worlds of science and technology at the heart of our decision-making in government’.

“The success of this department will be instrumental in in delivering long-term economic growth. The quality of these appointees speaks volumes about how seriously this government is taking policy delivery and successful collaboration in new innovative areas with the private and public sectors,” added Donelan.

Since its establishment in February, the DSIT has announced schemes like the Life Sciences Innovative Manufacturing Fund and the Innovation Accelerators programme, as well as the unveiling of government strategies on AI, quantum computing and wireless infrastructure.

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Written by Wed 28 Jun 2023

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