R&D plea as scientific sector competition increases

Business and university leaders have urged the UK government to turn words to actions as they demanded greater funding for the research and development sector.

The National Centre for Universities and Business, the collective voice of UK business and universities, has said the UK’s ambitions to become a science superpower are doomed to failure unless the funding is provided to drive the growth of research and development (R&D) capabilities.

In response to UK Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business said the ability for the breakthroughs which have been pivotal in tackling the global COVID-19 pandemic were only achieved by adequate levels of funding and unless there is more financial support the R&D sector will struggle.

“The Prime Minister used his speech to hammer home the Government’s ambition to make the UK a science superpower, and in so doing to level up,” he said. “Breakthroughs such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were only possible because of UK research and innovation. We therefore commend this ambition. A more research-intensive, innovation-led economy would give the UK a globally competitive advantage, drive economic growth across many regions of the country and also deliver a more sustainable, equitable and resilient society.”

Marshall added: “The Government has high aspirations, but actions speak louder than words. If the Prime Minister is truly serious about regaining the nation’s status as a science superpower and levelling up – it’s non-negotiable that the Government deliver ambitious spending and policy commitments in the upcoming spending review.

“It’s also vital that the Government recognise that the race to be a science superpower is incredibly competitive. Countries around the world are investing in research and development and are sending positive signals to global business to invest with them. The UK needs to do the same. If we become an even more attractive and competitive place to do business, it will bring huge benefit to all parts of the UK and will therefore achieve the levelling up ambitions as well. Putting it simply, this is imperative for the nation’s future.”

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