New recommendations to boost the commercial exploitation of science and engineering research will be published in a draft report later today.

The Frontiers of Innovation: Wealth Creation from Science, Engineering and Technology - the work of a group chaired by Sir Peter Williams, chairman of the Engineering and Technology Board and Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering - sets out more than 30 proposals for the creation of a policy framework to encourage greater wealth creation from science, engineering and technology (SET) both now and in the future.

Key recommendations from the Frontiers of Innovation report include:

  • better co-ordination of SET expenditures across Government departments, especially in Health and Defence sectors;
  • new Government procurement guidelines linked to its research and development (R&D) spending, recognising Government’s key role in technology development in supplier industries;
  • new taxation measures, including ‘supercharged’ venture capital trusts (VCTs) to encourage charitable involvement in early stage technology companies and greater publicity to encourage greater take up of the R&D tax credit; and
  • improved funding to ensure more research makes it from the development stage to the commercial stage.

Sir Peter Williams said:

“Our group’s draft report makes proposals for encouraging wealth creation from science, engineering and technology in the UK. We hope it will stimulate public debate and above all early action by the Government, the private sector and the universities.

“The United Kingdom SET sector is already a catalyst for economic growth. The report from London Economics that we are also publishing today shows that it currently punches well above its weight in wealth creation: in 2002, the four sectors employing the greatest proportion of SET professionals – construction, utilities, manufacturing and extraction – directly created more than 27 per cent of our GDP value added. This figure is exceptional given that it does not take into account the significant contributions from other sectors such as education and healthcare, nor the future research impact of bio-pharmaceuticals, defence and aerospace – sectors with high commitment to R&D.

“We want to ensure we build upon this contribution and boost future growth rates, particularly in emerging technology companies. We believe a policy framework that supports their growth and encourages the private sector to play a greater role in their development is key to achieving greater wealth creation from all our SET industries.”

Sir Alec Broers, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“I welcome this report – it could not have come at a better time, with the Chancellor’s new consultation on the strategy for UK science and engineering. We face an impressive challenge in the global market from countries like China, which produces over 600,000 graduates in SET subjects every year. University spin-outs were unknown in China till the mid-1990s and already they are making over $6 billion a year from such new companies.”

Professor David Wallace, Vice-President of the Royal Society, said:

“The UK’s world class science base provides the bedrock for our economic performance, but we need a culture of innovation to translate advances in basic research into the products and services that improve the prosperity and quality of our lives. This draft report outlines practical measures to encourage businesses to reach out more to universities and tap into the creative talent and outstanding ideas that are fostered within the science base. We need to do this, along with the rest of Europe, to close the gap with the United States, where businesses reap greater rewards from investing significantly more in research and development.”

The report will be debated at a reception at the Royal Society this evening. The final report will be delivered to the Treasury to inform its thinking ahead of this summer’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Download the ETB report (419.62 KB)

Notes for editors

  1. Copies of both reports can be downloaded online from 6pm on 31 March 2004. Please contact the etb press office for strictly embargoed copies in advance of this time.
  2. Both research reports were supported by funding from five organisations: the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Office of Science and Technology and the Engineering and Technology Board.
  3. The members of the Steering Group on Wealth Creation from Science, Engineering and Technology were:

    Sir Peter Williams, Chairman, Engineering and Technology Board (Chair)
    Alan Clark, Chief Executive, Engineering and Technology Board
    Sir David Cooksey, Chairman, Advent Venture Partners
    Ian Cooper, Director, Finance and Administration, the Royal Society
    Peter Fellner, Executive Chairman, Vernalis plc
    Philip Greenish, Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Engineering
    Hermann Hauser, Chairman, Amadeus Capital Partners
    Keith Hodgkinson, Former Industrial Adviser to Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce World Markets
    David Hughes, Director of Innovation DTI*
    Geraldine Kenney-Wallace, Director E-Strategy and Learning, City and Guilds
    John O’Reilly, Chief Executive, EPSRC*
    Craig Pickering, Money On-Line Education
    Sir Robin Saxby, Chairman, ARM Holdings plc
    Susan Searle, Managing Director, Imperial College Innovations Ltd.
    Bernard Taylor, Vice Chairman (Europe) J.P.Morgan and Chairman, Isis Innovation.
    Sir John Taylor, Director General of Research Councils until January 2004*

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton, the Royal Academy of Engineering

Mike Gannaway, the Engineering and Technology Board
020 7557 6412

Steve Bourne, the Engineering and Technology Board
020 7557 6421

Bob Ward, the Royal Society
020 7451 2516 /0 7811 320346