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Sir Patrick Vallance has told fellow science ministers the UK wants to be a “reliable partner”, as Labour seeks to improve relations with the global scientific community after tensions stoked by Brexit and escalating immigration costs for international researchers.

Vallance, who was appointed science minister by Sir Keir Starmer last week, said the UK was looking at a bid to host an international scientific research facility as it sought to “reset” its international reputation in a spirit of “humility and shared endeavour”.  

“We will be a reliable partner, a dependable ally, and a good neighbour on the world stage,” Vallance told a meeting of G7 science and technology ministers in Bologna, Italy. “I am proud to join a new government with a mandate for change, which also marks a reset in how the UK collaborates with the rest of the world, with humility and shared endeavour.”

He gave no details of the push the UK was considering for an international facility. Labour, which won last week’s general election, has talked of the importance of life sciences as a driver of innovation and growth.

Vallance praised the “incredible work” of the multinational Cern particle accelerator based outside Geneva, to which the UK is the second-largest contributor. The previous Conservative government had proposed the physicist Professor Mark Thomson as candidate to be Cern’s next leader. 

Vallance also cited the research done by the Square Kilometre Array Observatory radio telescope project. It is building the two largest radio telescope arrays in the world, in Australia and South Africa, with support from institutions including the UK’s Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.     

“Advances in science and technology succeed best when we work together with like-minded nations across the world, helping us to tackle global challenges, unlock growth and strengthen our nation’s security and resilience,” Vallance said. “The G7 is also a chance to showcase the UK as a country which is truly open for business for science and technology.”

The appointment of Vallance, a former president of research and development at the pharmaceuticals company GSK, is one of several early hires by the new government of experts from outside party politics. Vallance was government chief scientific adviser between 2018 and 2023, playing a high-profile role during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Britain wanted to hear from existing and potential new partners how it could strengthen scientific ties to tackle healthcare problems, improve public services and drive the “green revolution”, Vallance said. He noted the importance of this year’s move to relink the UK to the EU’s Horizon innovation research programme, after more than seven years of uncertainty following the 2016 referendum vote to leave the bloc.   



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