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The CaSE blog compiles comment and opinion from across the science and engineering policy sector.

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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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Summer holidays homework

Summer recess is upon us, which should mean things quieten down and I can find time for that paper on Total Factor Productivity that I’ve been meaning to read for so long. But no, instead we’ve been hit by a barrage of consultations to keep us busy over the holidays. I’ve pulled together all the ones I’ve spotted  that are interesting to the science and engineering community below.

If you know of any more or are able to feed in your views to us on any of the consultations, please do get in touch –

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New analysis shows BIS understates returns for investment in R&D

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has just published a really insightful new analysis of the relationship between public and private investment in R&D.

The report makes some conclusions that could be very influential in the upcoming Spending Review:

  • BIS may be understating the leverage that occurs from public funding of research. The new analysis suggests that an extra £1 of public investment will give rise to an increase in private funding of between £1.13 and £1.60 (an average of £1.36). The report says BIS currently use an estimate of £0.85 – and may therefore be underestimating the effect of changes in public expenditure on R&D.
  • Maintaining the Science Budget in cash terms has given rise to an estimated additional £1.2bn of private sector investment that would not have occurred if the budget had been cut in line with other government departments.
  • The report estimates that an extra £1 of public expenditure in university research leads to a further 29p of private investment in research in universities and £1.07 in research conducted elsewhere.

The report uses and builds upon research commissioned by CaSE on the economic significance of the UK science base.

The new findings really show the value of investing in R&D. In the upcoming Spending Review the Government will be looking to see where it can get the biggest bang for its buck as it makes difficult spending decisions. This new report gives the Treasury solid economic evidence that investment in R&D leverages private sector investment and drives much-needed economic growth. Crucially, it proves that not cutting the Science Budget was the right thing to do in 2010 and goes further to show that increasing the budget will bring big returns.

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CaSE calls for evidence on impact of immigration on UK science and engineering

Today we’re launching a survey asking for evidence of the the impact of immigration on UK science and engineering, and the effect current Government policy has had on the UK’s ability to attract the best scientists and engineers from around the world. We need your views and experiences to inform our research and recommendations for the Government, which we will be publishing in a full report by the end of the year.

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Government publishes its productivity plan


The Government today published its plan to raise UK productivity, “Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation”, as part of the Summer Budget.

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What have we learned from today’s budget?

So the Chancellor has given his much-anticipated all-Conservative Budget. What can the science and engineering community take away from today’s announcements and what do we still not know?

What we already knew

First, what did we already know before George Osborne stood up at the despatch box today? Read More »

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Dowling report says simplify support for university-business collaboration

The Dowling Review report was launched yesterday, making a number of recommendations on how university-business research collaborations can be better encouraged and supported in the UK. They include simplifying the support available to academics and industry, better rewards for people who collaborate, more funding, improvements to tech transfer, and better coordination of Government policies. The recommendations are targeted at public and private organisations across Government and the research community.

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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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From niche to norm

A new Parliament brings with it many new MPs. In considering the content of my few remarks for this Tuesday’s Parliamentary Links Day on Science and the new Parliament I took the opportunity to reflect on what it is that the new intake of MPs care about.

Why have they put themselves through the most public of job interviews?

What is it they would like to use their voice and position as an MP to achieve? Read More »

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Addressing the challenges facing physics

I shall be taking up office as president of the Institute of Physics shortly after the organisation’s introduction of a new strategy – a realignment of our aims and our work to better reflect the modern world. So one of the main concerns during my time at the helm will be helping to drive that strategy through.

In particular, a personal priority will be to improve the take-up of physics among women, who historically are drastically under-represented in the UK – only a fifth of physics A-level students, for example, are girls. The IOP already does a lot of excellent work aimed at remedying this, and I’ll be looking at how we can boost those efforts further. Read More »

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New Lords S&T Committee and POST members announced

The new Members of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee have been announced, along with a new appointment to the Board of the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST).

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Election campaigns underway to choose the next Chair of the S&T Committee

If you thought election fever was over, think again. The halls of Westminter are abuzz as the race begins to choose who will lead this Parliament’s powerful Select Committees. But don’t worry, it’s just MPs that have to vote this time, although you can contact your MP and try to influence their vote if you wish.

The number of Select Committees each party will Chair is based on the total number of MPs they have. So Conservatives have been given 14 Chairs, Labour have 10, and the SNP get two. The parties themselves then wrangle over which of the 26 committees up for grabs their party will Chair. Of greatest interest to us, the Conservatives have got the Science and Technology Committee Read More »

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How Science and Engineering is Represented in the new Parliament

With the official opening of Parliament, the dust has settled after the general election and MPs must get back to business. We think it is time to take a look at the changes to the representation of science and engineering in the House of Commons, as it is imperative that there is still a body of support for this vital sector.

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Why champion science and engineering? asks Andrew Miller

If you are a new Member of Parliament you will already have discovered that life in the House is not quite what you imagined. You will be trying to cope with a mountain of casework whilst not having had the time to appoint staff, sorting out domestic and office accommodation on an inadequate budget, meeting all the commitments made during the election and not least, trying to find out how the arcane rules of the House actually work! These are just a few of the challenges you are facing so what am I doing trying to get you to do something else? Read More »

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A new briefing on why the new government should champion science and engineering

Why champion science and engineeringIf you are a regular reader of this website I expect you already know and appreciate the incredible contribution science and engineering makes to the UK’s economic prosperity and public wellbeing. But with a new government now up and running and a parliament full of new and returned MPs, there is a new audience to engage with.

So today we have launched a “micro-briefing” to highlight how championing science and engineering can help support a strong economy, create high-value jobs, and help us all live healthier and happier lives. Read More »

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The Northern Powerhouse now has a Minister, or two!

2015 General Election - CabinetJames Wharton has been appointed as the Minister responsible for the Northern Powerhouse, the Government’s initiative to strengthen the economy in the North of England. Read More »

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New stats reveal more needs to be done to encourage girls to study physics and maths

The schools regulator Ofsted has just published statistics on pupils progressing onto AS levels and then to A-levels, broken down by gender and subject. This is the first time this has been brought together for England as a whole and follows recommendations by the Institute of Physics (IoP) that schools should monitor their rates and compare them to national averages. Read More »

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The next crop of MPs must be more statistically literate than the last

In 2012, MPs elected for the current parliamentary term were asked a simple question about the probability of flipping a coin and getting two heads in a row. The correct answer, as I’m sure you know, is 25%.

Not everybody needs to be a maths whiz, and not everybody has an interest in statistics and probabilities. But when it comes to the women and men elected to run the country, who make decisions on billion pound budgets and hold government to account, it is surely reasonable to expect they have a basic grasp of the numbers. Read More »

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Latest ONS figures bring good and bad news for government investment in R&D

CaSE’s analysis shows the proportion of government spending invested in UK R&D has been decreasing since 2003, putting us below international averages and competitor nations. In 2003 1.37% of total government spending went on R&D. In 2013 this figure had dropped to 1.18%, or £8.4 billion.

We’ve analysed new figures released by the Office for National Statistics on Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD). The stats show that GERD rose 5% in real-terms in 2013, reaching an all-time high of £28.9 billion. However, this equals 1.67% of GDP, a slight increase from 2012 but still below the European average of 2% and far lower than in the past. The government’s contribution to the UK’s total R&D spend was 0.49% of GDP. Read More »

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Prevent, transform, cure – putting people with arthritis at the heart of the election

There are around ten million people living in the UK with a musculoskeletal condition, of which there are many variations, ranging from the most common, osteoarthritis, to less prevalent conditions such as lupus.

What unites all of these conditions is the pain that they can cause and the impact that they can have on the people that have them, making it harder for them to do the things that so many of us take for granted- going to work, meeting friends, spending time with family. Read More »

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