Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Government unveils blueprint for future of British science [March 2004]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 16 March 2004.

On the eve of the Budget, the Government today launched a consultation with business, research foundations and the scientific community on the framework for a ten-year strategy for investment in science and engineering.

Speaking to senior figures from science and industry at a National Science Week event at No.11 Downing Street today, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown promised to protect the large funding increases for science and engineering announced in the last Spending Review, and pledged increased investment in future years.

The Chancellor stressed that the delivery of the objectives set out in the ten-year framework would depend on collaboration between Government and business, research foundations and the investment community to ensure the overall level of investment required.

A number of major companies, including GlaxoSmithkline, AstraZeneca, Shell, Vodafone, Amersham and Rolls Royce, are already in discussions with the Government on how their commercial investment in R&D and innovation can partner public investment in the UK science base, with GlaxoSmithkline and AstraZeneca announcing over £100 million of investment in individual research, science and technology projects today.

The consultation will set out the aims and ambitions of the ten-year framework, with the ultimate purpose of making Britain one of the most competitive locations for science, research and development and for innovation:

  • world class excellence from the best centres of science and technology, driven by competition for funding and talent;
  • a dynamic research base that meets the needs of both public and private funders and is managed effectively to achieve financial sustainability;
  • greater collaboration between universities and business to provide a sharper focus for research and an impetus to innovation and productivity growth;
  • better commercial translation of leading edge technologies into applications in business and the public sector;
  • the science and technology skills that the nation’s businesses and public services will need over the next decade, underpinned by excellent teaching in schools to engage the next generation of workers in the knowledge economy; and
  • a society that is confident about the regulation and use of science and technology.

Gordon Brown said:

“National Science Week is an ideal time not just to be celebrating Britain’s history of scientific excellence but to look forward to a future in which science and engineering skills will be even more crucial to Britain’s ability to compete in high-technology, high-value sectors. So we are preparing new partnerships with businesses and charities to meet this global challenge.

“I can confirm that we will support our ten year science strategy by locking in the significant boosts to science from the last two spending reviews and that we will continue to work with leading science based companies, the scientific community and research charities so that for the years from 2005-6 we can raise science funding as a share of national income.

“This is a collaborative effort.  I am delighted that a whole range of leading R&D businesses have indicated that they wish to work with us on our science strategy and to make their own commitments to the future of British science and innovation over the next decade. Our final funding decisions will reflect the extent of the parallel commitments made by all the key players on research and development in the UK.  So this is the challenge I am putting to all our partners, leading businesses and charities, today – with one ambition and purpose: to make Britain the best and most attractive location in the world for science and innovation.”

Education Secretary Charles Clarke said:

“The case for science is iron-cast. A strong supply of highly skilled scientists, engineers and mathematicians, greater collaboration between universities and business and a broader understanding of science across society are all important to our economic competitiveness and educational edge. No-one can be in any doubt about this Government’s commitment to science and It is important that we build upon the momentum we have already created. This is a great day for science and innovation.”

Science and Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury said:

“The UK needs to raise its innovation performance if it is to compete in the global economy with the low wage emerging economies such as China and India.

“The quality of our science and engineering is an important national asset. In recent years knowledge transfer from our universities has improved an business R&D is also now increasing, but we need to do more in both areas as well as making certain that our science and engineering base is properly funded.”