In a letter to The Times newspaper, published today, senior figures from some of the UK’s top science and engineering firms made the case for continued public support for science and engineering. Between them, the companies account for almost a third of all corporate spending on R&D in the UK – more than twice the Government’s science budget.
The letter was instigated and coordinated by the Campaign for Science and Engineering. It is available on the The Times website, and reads:
Sir, The UK’s private sector invests £16 billion in research and development and employs 150,000 people. Our companies are careful about where they invest. We value the scientific and engineering talent that flows from the UK’s world-class universities and publicly funded research base, and how the tax regime supports research and development investment.
Scientists, engineers, and multinational companies will focus their pursuits in countries with the most favourable intellectual, financial and political environments.
High-skills industries are where the future lies. Demographic and socio-economic change in the EU and beyond means that this country will continue to become less competitive in low-skilled sectors. Our competitor nations recognise these trends and are rapidly investing in high-tech infrastructures.
The UK has an opportunity to drive future economic growth through science and engineering. To do so, the Government needs a clear, strong and long-term strategy for making the UK the most attractive country for companies to conduct research and development. This includes investing in education and public sector research, so that highly skilled graduates and technicians in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are nurtured in the UK.
Such a stable and positive policy environment would give private research and development investors the confidence to undertake long-term projects here, helping to grow the UK’s economy into one that is truly modern and innovative, with strength and security from a diversity of sectors.
Dr Mike Bushell, Principal Scientific Adviser, Syngenta
Jane Cannon, Group managing director, Lockheed Martin UK
Dr Chris Francis, Government affairs, IBM
Dr Mene Pangalos, Executive Vice-president innovative medicines, AstraZeneca R&D
Dr David Roblin, Senior Vice-president, R&D, Pfizer
Neil Scott, Vice-president, engineering, Airbus UK
Dr Patrick Vallance, Senior Vice-president, drug discovery, GlaxoSmithKline