The Royal Academy of Engineering has reiterated its belief that the UK’s research investment must deliver the foundation for economic growth by providing the knowledge base for the high value, high tech businesses and industries of the future. With the priority for long term economic growth confirmed as one of the government’s top priorities, Ministers’ deliberations on allocation will need to focus on how best to use the research base to drive it.

In a letter this week to Professor Adrian Smith, Director General Science and Research, Academy President Lord Browne of Madingley sets out the Academy’s views on allocation of the science research budget, following the welcome and ring-fenced settlement achieved for science under the difficult circumstances of the 2010 Spending Review.

The Academy is concerned to ensure that, within a balanced research portfolio, a higher proportion of our research investment goes towards high quality research that is likely to lead to near- to mid-term economic benefit.

The second consideration is the importance of mechanisms to turn ideas into wealth-creating businesses. Not only is this vital for the future economy but the UK will not be able to afford the size and quality of its current knowledge base if it does not generate successful high-tech companies. The UK needs to get much better at translating the knowledge we gain from research into marketable products and services and the Academy is highly supportive of the ideas behind the Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs).

Thirdly, there is a strong case for preserving research training within the budgetary allocations. Education and training in research are vital to maintain the pipeline of highly-skilled people to develop and enhance the UK’s sustainable knowledge base in business and academia.

Lord Browne says:

“The decisions to be made on UK research will need to be enacted within a wider policy and regulatory environment that promotes our capacity to compete. We must create and embed a culture in our society that encourages entrepreneurialism and innovative business models and we shall need a workforce with the skills that support our competitive position.

“This Academy will continue to play its part, alongside government and our partners in engineering business and industry, to support the excellent research, the engineering skills base and the policy framework that will drive innovation, growth and, ultimately an economy that is robust, sustainable and rebalanced.”

Notes for editors

  1. The full text of the Academy’s 15 November letter to Professor Adrian Smith is available at  Responses to government and other bodies
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community

For more information please contact

Lesley Paterson at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0684; email:  Lesley Paterson