The Royal Academy of Engineering has today welcomed the findings of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which is warning that the UK risks losing its status as a world leader in research if the government does not make a long-term commitment to increase science funding.
Since 2010, a flat-cash settlement in the science budget has seen its value fall in real terms, so that the UK spends just 1.7% of GDP on science and research - significantly less than the 2.4% OECD average. MPs are calling on the government to produce a long term ‘roadmap' for increasing public and private sector research and development (R&D) investment to 3% of GDP.
Philip Greenish CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “I welcome the Committee’s report. The UK possesses an outstanding research base and has many of the strengths required to excel in innovation, but as a nation we are engaged in a fierce global competition for talent and investment. Many other countries are adopting assertive knowledge-driven growth strategies, and it is essential that the UK is seen to provide a favourable environment for investing in innovation. In this highly competitive and internationalised environment, the role of government in providing an effective and long-term commitment to research and innovation is more important than ever.”
Professor Ric Parker CBE FREng, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee and Director of Research and Technology, Rolls-Royce plc, said: “Nicola Blackwood’s first report as Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee promises great things for the future. From an industrial viewpoint, she has got straight to the nub of the argument: intervention or not! As she says, ‘the government should also retain the current system of innovation grants — rather than loans — as a key policy tool, alongside R&D tax credits, for de-risking innovation investment’. Superb; exactly what UK industry, large and small, wants. Without this, there will be a growing tendency to consider investment abroad; inward investment will also be dis-incentivised.”
Chair of the cross-party Science and Technology, Nicola Blackwood MP, said: “Spending on science and innovation is not a state subsidy, it is a strategic investment that creates jobs, increases productivity and attracts inward investment. Committing the UK to a 3% GDP target for science spending would send a crucial signal about the long term stability and sustainability of our science and innovation ecosystem, supercharging private sector R&D investment from industry, charities and overseas investors alike.”
The science budget is managed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Although spending for capital investment has already been set at £1.1bn a year until 2020-21, the resource budget for science and innovation will be announced as part of the government's spending review on 25 November.
The government's own research has shown than over half of productivity growth between 2000 and 2008 was due to innovation, and that firms that consistently invest in research and development were 13% more productive.
Notes for Editors
Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.
We have four strategic challenges:
- Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
- Address the engineering skills crisis
- Position engineering at the heart of society
- Lead the profession
For more information please contact:
Aaron Boardley at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T:020 7766 0655
E: Aaron Boardley