SCI CEO welcomes UK science report but stresses focus must switch to implementation and higher R&D target
Sharon Todd, SCI (Society of Chemical Industry) CEO today welcomed the launch of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report on UK science strategy. SCI is one of the contributors to the report entitled “Science and technology superpower: more than a slogan?”
Following consultation with key stakeholders, the Report states a robust UK science and technology policy is needed to unlock economic growth, better public services and help the UK compete internationally. The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee urges the next Prime Minister to honour Government ambitions for science, technology and innovation and a commitment to research and funding.
Sharon Todd said:
“In March 2021 the Government announced the UK’s ambition to be a ‘Science and Tech Superpower’ by 2030. We welcome the Report and its Recommendations however, ambitions need concrete targets.
The ambition to increase R&D spend from the current figure of around 1.94% to 2.4% is a significant change but necessary. The UK is already falling behind other global competitors and 2.68% was the OECD average in 2020.
We were pleased to see the ambition to move to 3% longer-term but this would only move the UK to be on a par with the USA, Japan, Korea and Germany and China (at 2.4% in 2020). Setting a target of 3% would clearly be a significant step from 1.94 % but such a stretch target would focus us all on what needs to be done.
The strategy will need the private sector to be engaged and delivering a significant proportion of the investment uplift and this means it is critical that there is comprehensive engagement with industry. The science-based industry in the UK already invests significantly in R&D, in particular across the life-sciences and speciality materials sectors and there may be opportunities to further spur inward investment. There are also significant opportunities to align the aspiration of the Government’s Green Growth agenda with industries able to deliver again the technical capabilities needed, but a detailed plan would need to be put in place. Perhaps a new Industrial Strategy is needed?”
SCI’s Report submission can be found here.