Science and the Industrial Strategy – Parliamentary Links Day 2018

By Carmen Coxon, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control

Scientists and politicians both have a tendency to over promise (usually with the best of intentions!) and under deliver (life never really works out how you expect, right?). By the end of the 30th Parliamentary Links Day I also got the impression we share something else – a desire to ensure that UK science remains at the top of its game and that the UK scientific research community is well supported.

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Making the most of the Industrial Strategy

By Emma Sykes, Science Policy Officer, Biochemical Society and the Royal Society of Biology

For our first Policy Lunchbox of the year we welcomed Naomi Weir, Deputy Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, CaSE, who led a highly animated discussion on the Government’s new Industrial Strategy and how we, the life science sector can make the most of it.

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The demand for skills development in the molecular biosciences

Derry MercerBy Dr Derry K Mercer, Principal Scientist at Novabiotics Ltd & member of the Biochemical Society Policy Advisory Panel

The UK Government recently published a Green Paper ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ in which the urgent need for developing skills in further/higher education and the workforce was outlined. The document noted that while the UK higher education system was strong, our achievements in basic and technical skills was relatively poor and has led to the lower levels of productivity compared with other advanced economies.

The skills issues were outlined as follows:

  • lack of basic skills;
  • shortage of high-skilled technicians below graduate level;
  • skills shortages in STEM sectors;
  • the need for informed career choices;
  • lack of lifelong learning opportunities.

For anyone working in the molecular biosciences, whether in academia or industry, most of these concerns can hardly have come as a surprise and represents a huge problem for a growing sector that currently generates turnover of over £56 billion per annum. Indeed, the skills and productivity gaps were pointed out in an earlier UK government documentFixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation’ in 2015. Continue reading “The demand for skills development in the molecular biosciences”

Building our Industrial Strategy: Investing in science, research and innovation

By Dr Kelly Davidge, Research and Development Manager at Kirkstall Ltd

Parliament pic

In the Government’s recently published Green Paper on building the UK’s industrial strategy, they recognise the importance of investment in science, research and innovation and have committed to a number of strategies to boost the UK innovation economy. Although the UK has three of the top 10 and 12 of the top 100 world universities, we lag behind other countries when it comes to investment in innovation through research and development (R&D):

  • 1.7% of UK GDP- gross domestic product- is invested in R&D funding, compared with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 2.4%;
  • business investment in R&D is 1% in the UK, but 2% in Germany, 2.5% in Japan and over 3% in South Korea;
  • the UK produces a similar number of spin-off companies to the US but registers fewer patents;
  • none of our universities feature in the top 10 of Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities – 2016, a list that ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and drive the global economy.

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