The engineering community welcomes today’s report from the IUSS Committee into Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy and calls for its recommendations to be enacted with a focus on developing new technologies to make them commercially viable.

The UK has invested in its science and engineering base consistently over the last 11 years and, in order that we can continue to do so, we need to be more effective at turning the fruits of curiosity into the wealth creating products and services of the future. Today’s report looks at the balance of blue-sky and directed research and how Government can ensure the returns from investment in science can be improved. The engineering community is keen to see more ideas making the transition from academic inquiry to commercial success and we believe that it is appropriate for research funders to be more directed in their approach to technologies as they mature and become more relevant to real world problems and applications. Engineering The Future is a banner under which the engineering community is working to address key national challenges through engineering solutions.

The "innovation pathway" is more than just academic inquiry, and making the step to being a commercial proposition is key. This is where the TSB plays a significant role, helping promising technologies through the critical transition period. Once innovation moves out of universities and into the commercial domain, support is just as necessary, if not more so. It is also an area where "science policy" and "innovation policy" overlap. More important than which department funds, or has control of funding in this transition, is that good scientific ideas progress through to commercial development. The combining of both of these functions within BIS, rather than being spread across DIUS and BERR, is welcome.

The Committee also asked how Government Science and Engineering policy should be scrutinised. Since the instigation of this inquiry, there have been departmental changes to the structure of Government and it has also been announced that a Science and Technology Committee is to be reinstated to scrutinise science and engineering issues across Government. The community particularly welcomes this development because scientific and engineering research and advice are central to the public policy functions of many departments. The engineering community looks forward to supporting the new Committee.

Notes for editors

  1. 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

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636