Report summary

A blueprint for the oversight of emerging science and technologies

Emerging science and technologies can improve our lives in many ways, but also bring risks. Effective regulatory oversight is needed to make sure these technologies reach their full potential quickly and safely, and with the public's trust. Our report sets out how the UK can become a world leader in this area. 

Key findings 

  • Now is a unique moment for oversight reform as the UK reflects on its regulatory choices before it leaves the EU. The UK government should seize this opportunity by setting out its vision and a package of reforms to make the UK the world leader in the oversight of emerging science and technologies. 
  • This will create substantial rewards in the UK – more investment, a stronger environment for science, and faster access to innovations that transform people’s lives – and around the world.
  • Reforms to oversight must be underpinned by the following principles:
    • Inclusive – the government should support regulators to involve public groups from an early stage and then maintain engagement as innovation and its oversight are developed.
    • Anticipatory – the government must equip UK regulators to anticipate and monitor emerging science and technologies. This will help them to develop and iterate an appropriate, proportionate approach.
    • Innovative – the UK is beginning to support experimental oversight approaches, but the government needs to further incentivise and support testing of these approaches. Achieving this will require collaboration between regulators, industry, academia and public groups.
    • Proportionate – oversight should foster the potential benefits of emerging science and technologies, and protect against harms by being proportionate to predicted risk. The UK should keep up its strong track record in delivering proportionate oversight.
  • These changes will only be delivered effectively if there is clear leadership and accountability for oversight. This requires the government to be flexible and decisive in responding to regulatory gaps.
  • At a time when Brexit is reshaping the UK’s geopolitical relationships, it is important for the UK not to strike out alone, but to lead in shaping regulation internationally.
“Brexit creates a unique opportunity for the UK government to set out its vision and a package of reforms to deliver a world leading, dynamic approach to oversight of emerging technologies. Alongside this, regulatory diplomacy will ensure the UK's pioneering approaches on oversight are shared globally.”
Beth Thompson, Wellcome's Head of Policy (UK & EU)


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