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Government to invest record £26 billion in science by 2021

The Government has announced that it will be investing £26.3 billion in science up to the year 2021. This is approximately £6bn per year. This funding is key to the long-term success of the AD sector, as research funding to AD researchers via bodies like the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is secured. Funding to Innovate UK, the body intended to fund innovation to move research into the commercial world, has already been largely secured for this Parliament. 

Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson said:

“From the invention of the lightbulb to the creation of the world wide web, UK scientists have been instrumental in many of the world’s most significant discoveries, and we are determined to continue this legacy on a global scale. In a time of tight control over public spending, we have guaranteed record investment for UK scientists so they can help us tackle climate change, produce disease-resistant crops and cure rare diseases. The government is delivering a decade of sustained investment in science, and as long as scientists continue to discover, innovate, and drive economic growth we will continue to stand right behind them.”

There would clearly never have been an AD industry without scientific understanding, particularly in the biological and engineering fields, so this news must be welcome as funding streams supporting AD can be continued. The industry is in need of further research breakthroughs as we grapple with a fast-changing policy environment. 

The Government's Science Strategy explains how important it is to individual companies, industries and countries to invest in research and the improvements in sales, profitability, exports and economic growth that result from that investment. 

They say that:

  • The UK is in 2nd position in the Global innovation Index, up from 14th in 2009-10;
  • The UK ranks 2nd in the world on investment in knowledge-based capital;
  • However, total UK investment in R&D has been stable and relatively low at around 1.8% of GDP since the early 1990s. In contrast the US spends around 2.8% of its GDP on R&D per annum;
  • Private rates of return on R&D investment are estimated at between 20% and 30%, with social rates of return two of three times larger.

Importantly: “Innovation drives productivity and growth: of the productivity growth that took place in the UK between 2000 and 2008, one third (32%) was attributable to changes in technology resulting from science and innovation.  Innovative businesses grow twice as fast as non-innovative ones. They create new jobs, new products, access export markets and attract inward investment.”

We are holding a Research and Innovation (R&I) Forum in April at the University of York to bring academia, the public sector and the AD industry together to share research results and ensure that the research funding being provided to AD is being used effectively and all the results are being disseminated for the good of the industry.

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