The British Academy has welcomed today’s House of Commons Science and Technology Committee statement on R&D investment, which urges the Government to set out a clear road map to increase science and research funding in the Spending Review in order to strengthen the UK’s competitiveness and productivity. In its joint document with the other national academies, ‘Building a Stronger Future’ published earlier this year, the Academy called on the Government to build on the UK’s enormous strengths in research and innovation by placing them at the heart of its plans for long-term economic growth.
British Academy President, Lord Stern, said:
“We welcome today’s statement by the Science and Technology Committee and its suggestion of setting a 3% target GDP target for science and research spend. The UK already produces some of the most cutting edge research in the world, but we cannot take this leadership in research for granted. Leading edge research and innovation across the humanities and social sciences helps us tackle many of the greatest challenges that the UK faces – improving productivity and health, producing more sustainable energy and bringing stronger education and skills across the whole workforce.
“Publicly financed R&D is a vital source of UK innovation, and there is extensive evidence that this type of research ‘spills over’ to the private sector, and leverages-in further investment. The UK is primarily a service economy and some of its most innovative sectors - such as the cultural and creative industries – have the highest rates of productivity growth. Supporting R&D across the whole spectrum of intellectual disciplines is therefore essential in order to prevent the UK falling behind its international competitors.”
When he gave evidence in a session of the Committee in July 2015, Lord Stern said:
“You expand your areas of activity where the returns are the highest...that is the fundamental basis of any serious growth story. In the decade up to the crisis, something like half the UK’s growth was around innovation, and that is built on research. This is not a minor thing: the returns in terms of the growth of the British economy could be really substantial.”