CaSE recognises that the commercialisation of science and technology through large scale industry and SMEs is essential for economic growth, so we explore the challenges and pressures facing businesses in our sector. In addition, we believe that both science and science policy must be into the public domain so that that the whole country is engaged in shaping their future. As such we interact widely with the media, focussing on the pillars of our campaign to inform debate across society.
Here you will find blogs, reports, briefing and consultations on Industry, Media and Society.
This is CaSE’s response to the HM Treasury consultation on R&D Tax Credits. We believe that the UK must become a knowledge-intensive economy if it is to be internationally competitive in the years to come, and it is therefore crucial that the tax system incentivises research and development activity in the private sector.
Government SET Statistics show that in 2008, 1.8% of UK GDP was spent on R&D. This compares to 3.4% in Japan, 2.8% in the USA, and 2.6% in Germany. Looking at R&D performed by business alone, the figures are 1.1% for the UK, 2.7% for Japan, 2% for the USA, and 1.3% for France. These figures underline the importance of incentivising R&D in the UK.
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
The head of Oxford Instruments, Jonathan Flint, was interviewed on last Friday’s edition of the BBC Today programme, regarding the subject of commercial spin-offs from academia. We recommend you listen to the full interview here; it’s just a few minutes long.
Oxford Instruments is a successful spin-off company from Oxford University producing high-level nanotechnology tools, and is also an organisational member and supporter of CaSE.
There’s been a lot of talk about AC Grayling’s the New College of the Humanities.
It’s a useful thought exercise to consider why there hasn’t been a similar ‘New College of the Sciences’; could one be financially viable and, if so, what students might pay for it?
How do you convince the next generation of potential scientists and engineers that a career which is, apart from the obvious stereotypes largely invisible to them a) really exists and b) will welcome them?
Mike Pringle is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Edinburgh South in the upcoming Scottish parliamentary elections
With the vast sums of money and technical jargon involved, most people tend not to engage with science and research policy, asking themselves: “How does this affect me?”
Below the ministerial level, politicians tend to avoid it, too – it’s not seen as a bread-and-butter vote-winning issue. However, in my experience, this could not be further from the truth.
Having studied for a Physics degree at Edinburgh, in which I wound up specialising in Solid State Physics (which stood me in excellent stead in a subsequent career in Silicon Valley) , I can be regarded as having been well on my way to being a specialist ‘anorak’. From an early age my interest in the rigours of science had taken me from astronomy through chemistry at school before switching to Physics as I moved to university.
Watching events unfold in Japan, I have been struck by how every element of the developing disaster shows the impact of science on society. Our collective sympathies are with all the people of Japan, including the scientists and engineers who are now dealing with the implications of natural disasters for the Fukushima nuclear power plants.
There is a growing belief that we are entering a new global age of the scientist and engineer as entrepreneur, if only because there is no more easy money to be had from property or from money itself. With this in mind surely this is the time to make all our science in Northern Ireland count – particularly as we try to rebalance and grow a private sector led economy.
In this context it is incumbent on our politicians and decision makers to foster an environment where science and engineering can flourish for the good of us all.
For much of the past 18 months, the Campaign for Science and Engineering was regularly asked the same question. It might have been only a few years since the lobby group changed its name from Save British Science, which had started to sound a little odd as Research Council budgets were being doubled. But was it time to change it back?
It is easy to see why such a move might have been worth considering, for if the future of British science had looked reasonably secure when CaSE rebranded itself, at least four significant new threats had recently presented themselves. First, there was the crisis over scientific advice to government, provoked by Alan Johnson’s decision to sack Professor David Nutt as chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, without reference to either the Science Minister or the Chief Scientific Adviser. Then there was the spate of libel actions brought against scientists and science writers, most prominently the cases against Peter Wilmshurst and Simon Singh.
Posted in Blog
Also tagged CaSE, Guest Article
One of the great positives to come from both the Science Vote campaign (during the general election) and the Science is Vital campaign (leading up to the Spending Review) has been the groundswell of support from ordinary scientists and engineers.
CaSE would like to encourage those scientists and engineers who have been stirred up by these campaigns to become more politically engaged.
In a letter to The Times, organised by CaSE, leading figures from the science and engineering policy community, including Sir John Bell, Sir Mark Walport and Lord Rees, gave recognition that the Government has ring‐fenced the science and university research funding.
A letter to the Times highlighting the need for the government to ensure that the most talented scientists are attracted to the UK. The letter is endorsed by eight Nobel Prize Winners
Letter to the Times on the non-EU immigration cap
CaSE Director Imran Khan also blogged in the Guardian on Ed Miliband’s victory
CaSE today warmly welcomed the new leader of the Labour Party, Ed Millband MP. CaSE Director, Imran Khan, said “With his educational and policy background, plus what he’s already said as an MP and in his leadership campaign, we’re optimistic that Ed Milliband understands the unique opportunities that science and engineering can provide the nation – especially at this time of financial difficulty.”
Ed Miliband studied politics, philosphy and economics at Oxford and then took a masters in economics at the London School of Economics, and is apparently a “self-confessed maths geek”. He worked as a Labour Party researcher for Harriet Harman and then became chairman of the Treasury’s Council of Economic Advisers. He served as Secretary of State at the newly created Department of Energy and Climate Change from October 2008 to May 2010.
Professor Ronald Laskey FRS FMedSci is Vice-President of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Professor of Embryology at the University of Cambridge.
We heard from Vince Cable yesterday morning that science and research are vital to the UK’s economic future but that we are operating in a financially constrained environment. It is therefore timely that the Academy of Medical Sciences has published its advice on the science budget as one of the seven organisations invited by Government to provide comment in the run up to the spending review. Alongside we have also published a briefing on the relationship between public investment in medical research and economic growth that was prepared at the request of the Science Minister. A key message of these documents is that public investment in medical research leverages rather than displaces investment by industry and charities. Without continued public funding there is a serious danger that increasingly mobile companies, charities and researchers will undertake valuable medical research abroad.
CaSE Director Imran Khan wrote to The Times, in response to a leading article published on 10th August in which the newspaper argued that businesses must do more to invest in research and development.
“Public investment has a multiplier effect on private investment. You argue that the principal aim of a modern industrial policy should be to increase investment in R&D; the first plank of that policy must be to safeguard public investment in science and engineering”
Alan Hughes is Director of both the UK Innovation Research Centre and the Centre for Business Research, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
It is a commonplace to argue that whist the UK university system produces excellent research it does not do well in relation to its interconnections with industry. The potential for wealth creation is, it is claimed, lost by weak and diffused knowledge exchange patterns and an unwillingness of academics to interact with external organisations.
There is in particular the view that the UK has much to learn from the US where, it is argued, a much deeper and more productive set of interrelationships exists between entrepreneurially minded universities and academics and the American business sector. There is, indeed, some evidence to suggest that US businesses do place a higher value on their university-based interactions and invest more of their own resources in supporting them than is the case in the UK (Cosh and Hughes, 2010). Read More
Yannis Pierrakis is Head of Investments Research at the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA)
NESTA’s research shows that the 6 per cent of UK businesses with the highest growth rates generated half of the new jobs created by existing businesses between 2002 and 2008. Such young, innovative companies particularly need Venture Capital (VC) because they require significant capital up-front to develop new products in advance of sales. They tend to have intangible assets and ambitious growth plans that require large amounts of finance, show a significant delay before generating revenue and consequently entail high risk. As a result, debt finance is inappropriate – but venture capital is an alternative form of finance that is structured to address these challenges.
Creating new industries requires sustained investment over the long-term, continued commitment and long-term resources. The semiconductor and microcomputer industries are good examples of this lengthy and capital-intensive process. In both cases, it took up to ten years of continued risk capital investing before the industries properly took off. Virtually every other new industry since – biotechnology, personal computers, PC software, wireless communications, the Internet – have followed this pattern.
Allan Sudlow is Relationships Manager for Science, Technology and Medicine at the British Library
For those concerned about the future of science in the UK under the new Government, it’s almost certainly a case of waiting and worrying, but we should not be passive. This was the undercurrent to a recent debate – Science in UK Government: Where’s the Evidence – between Evan Harris (former Liberal Democrat MP and Science Spokesman) and Mark Henderson (Science Editor for the Times) as part of the TalkScience series at the British Library.
Science and the New Parliament preceded (and slightly overlapped with) the budget today. It was organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) with the support of many other organisations, including CaSE.
Speakers came from across science and engineering to discuss the importance of working together with parliament and government to develop public policy. Imran Khan, CaSE Director, outlined CaSE’s current priorities and spoke of the need to work positively to engage and support incoming MPs.
A range of government and parliamentary speakers contributed their thoughts, including John Bercow, Speaker of the House, who opened the proceedings, Mark Lancaster, longtime supporter of the RSC’s work, Malcolm Wicks, former science minister, and Professor Sir John Beddington, Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA).