Author Archives: Helen Ewles, Royal Academy of Engineering

Investing in Innovation

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‘Science Lives Here’ says the Royal Institution

‘Science Lives Here’ is the motto that sits under ‘Royal Institution’ in our logo. We changed it a few years ago to reflect that for over 200 years the Royal Institution has been at the forefront of public discussion about science.

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A message from the front-line of R&D

2,079 members responded to the union’s survey in June: A highly qualified and age diverse group, including 27% women.  Just over a third of responses came from the civil service, with a similar number from the private sector and the remainder from members in a range of other organisations including charities, research institutes, public-private partnerships and universities. Read More »

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Continuing to champion UK universities

London is the most popular city in the world for international students. We currently play host to 40,000 from continental Europe and 67,000 from the rest of the world. They enrich the city and country by sharing their cultures and becoming friends of Britain in ways that boost our diplomatic and trade links in future years. Read More »

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Innovation – the power of three

Seen from the ground, growth in sales and profits, rewarding careers opportunities, exploitation and dissemination of new technologies are just some of the obvious consequence of companies’ innovation efforts. And in their own words, manufacturers who participated in some recent EEF research told us why innovation matters to them…

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Science for Science’s sake

The upcoming spending review has meant that we have all had to re-examine our assumptions on this score. Ordinarily, I am a strong believer in science for science’s sake but, in really debating whether the science budget should be protected, it has become clear that there are many other reasons for doing so.

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Tackling misconceptions of British science policy

Everyone agrees that the UK should both invest more in research and in inspiring the scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future – otherwise it risks a skills shortage that will undermine our ability to compete.

But the sad reality is that the whole of Government-sponsored science is less than the sum of its parts. Read More »

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BP’s Ultimate STEM Challenge to inspire the scientists and engineers of the future

For the second consecutive year, BP has announced the launch of its competition – the Ultimate STEM Challenge – in partnership with STEMNET and the Science Museum. The competition is open to young people aged between 11 to 14 and will challenge them to put their Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills to the test by tackling some real-world challenges. Read More »

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Transformations: delving into an alternative side of science

From 18:00 on Tuesday 8 September, Bradford’s independent quarter will transform as part of this year’s British Science Festival. ‘Transformations: North Parade after dark’ promises an evening fusing science, art, music and everything in between.

The evening’s theme of transformations is fitting on many different levels. The North Parade area has undergone a recent revival and a host of new independent venues have opened with the desire to offer something different.

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Assessing the UK’s soil policy

In this International Year of Soils, there is growing recognition of the problems affecting our soils and the need to address those problems for our collective future. Certainly there is widespread concern amongst the soil science community and, I think, growing recognition of the problems amongst the farming community. But we do not yet have widespread public awareness of the value of soils or effective support amongst policy makers. We are publishing our Living Soil: a call to action report, which we hope will help to change that.

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Focus on Light

The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 2015 as the International Year of Light (IYL2015), creating a great opportunity to mark some historic milestones and celebrate scientific heroes, from Ibn al-Haytham’s early work on optics in 1015 to Charles Kao’s demonstration in 1965 of the transmission of light in optical fibres. Other anniversaries include the publication of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism in 1865 and Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1915.

Even more importantly, the Year of Light has set some seriously aspirational goals, which we in the UK are playing our part to pursue.

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How many learned societies does it take to tackle antimicrobial resistance?

In our blog post of February 2014 a colleague and I argued that Learned Societies, acting as ‘boundary organisations’, are in a unique position to bring together diverse groups of researchers around a single issue. In doing so, we can facilitate action.

Since then, that’s exactly what we, and our policy colleagues, have been doing; a collaboration of seven learned societies has recently completed a series of multidisciplinary networking workshops aimed at scientists at all career stages from academia, industry and the public sector. The issue: antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

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Celebrating National Women in Engineering Day

The British automotive industry is booming. Bouncing back from a low point in the early 2000s, Britain is now the base for more manufacturers than any other European country: mass-market manufacturers, premium car-makers, bus builders and dozens of smaller producers, as well as eight of the 11 Formula One teams.  The UK is one of the world centres of motoring research and development, and attracts billions of pounds in foreign investment every year.

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The Data Manifesto: Improving data for policy making, democracy and prosperity

CASE has recently launched important briefings in the run up to the next election including a call for a 10-year plan for government spending on research and development that exceeds growth and aims to reach current investment levels in Germany and the United States. The Financial Times in a recent editorial has also indicated that it would be preferable to invest in the UK’s science base than to have tax cuts, if there is any cash to spare in the next Parliament.

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She figures 2012 – Is progress being made?

Last week She Figures for 2012 were released by the European Commission. Published every three years, they provide a wealth of data on the gender breakdown at different levels, and in different sectors, within research and innovation. The numbers bring mixed news, with hints of progress largely obscured by the depressing reality of the widespread underrepresentation of women in research, particularly in STEM fields.

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What’s driving the UK’s innovation system?

Yesterday CaSE attended a Parliamentary debate at Portcullis House, looking at the “key drivers of the UK’s innovation system”. While the question framed at the outset was “Which contributes more to British innovation, research tax credits or universities?”, the discussion rapidly took a different angle, focusing instead on how best to incentivise innovation across all research environments – from large companies to research laboratories, recognising that each plays a different role in driving innovation.

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Where now for UK pharma?

The pharmaceutical industry (Pharma) has made important contributions to quality of life, longevity, economic growth and education at all levels, and is a key component of the government’s growth strategy. For decades, the UK had been a world leader in medicines discovery and research with at least 10 of the top-selling drugs worldwide (>$1bn annual sales at peak) having UK-trained PhD organic chemists as named inventors. Read More »

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Industry calls for Triple Science

Today, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) appealed for all young people who show an aptitude for science by the age of 14 to be automatically registered for Triple Science.

At a time when the economy is attempting to repair and is preparing for growth, there is a distinct need for people with STEM skills. However, 40% of companies are pointing out that it is increasingly difficult to find these people. Read More »

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Preserving a Scottish science and engineering legacy

We need a Science Minister in Scotland. Science and engineering has an impact, and is affected by a huge range of government activities – so a failure to adequately represent them could lead to Scotland falling behind in the global high-tech race.

Scotland has an immensely rich history in science and technology innovation, cultivating figures such as John Logie Baird, inventor of the television and James Maxwell, the distinguished physicist. However, this history needs to be built upon with political support. Read More »

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Do we need a statistics campaign?

Getstats is both the issue and the midwife of a growing national consensus. There is deepening agreement that the UK, and its constituent territories, need a more numerate population …if the economy is to be rebalanced, productivity to increase, families and households to cope with the quantities of modern life and together we are to talk to one another sensibly about risk and probability and so devise lasting policies for climate change, energy and ageing. Read More »

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