Uploaded by Rafael Popper 3320 days ago   Number of pages: 73   File's language: English   Views: 479

No-one can predict the 21st century counterparts of quantum theory, the double helix and the internet. But there is little doubt that advances in science and technology will continue to transform the way we live, create new industries and jobs, and enable us to tackle seemingly intractable social and environmental problems.

Ten years into this new scientific century, the world is slowly recovering from a severe financial crisis. Food security, climate change and health inequalities are rising up international policy agendas. And countries such as China, India and Brazil are reshaping the economic and political landscape.

Faced with such uncertainties, the UK must build on its existing strengths. This country has a proud track record of achievement in science and engineering. Today, thanks to sustained investment, we have the most productive research base among the world’s leading economies. Our universities are ranked second only to those of the USA. And the outputs of our research are increasingly threaded through the economy. Over the last 15 years, our universities have responded enthusiastically to the challenge of transferring more of their knowledge into industry, and have given rise to a growing number of high- tech clusters. These developments are still quite fragile and, as was the case in the USA, will need to be nurtured carefully. It would be disastrous if, at this stage, there was a withdrawal of support for our world-class universities, or the incentives which have been put in place to encourage translation, commercialisation and knowledge exchange.

At the same time as we have improved our record on science and innovation, other countries have improved theirs. Our scientific leadership, which has taken decades to build, can quickly be lost. While the UK contemplates further reductions in spending on higher education and research, most other major economies, including the USA, China, France and Germany, have outlined ambitious plans to increase investment and boost their innovation performance.
Drawing on evidence, analysis and extensive consultation across the UK’s science, engineering and innovation communities, this report distils two urgent messages. The first is the need to place science and innovation at the heart of the UK’s long-term strategy for economic growth. The second is the fierce competitive challenge we face from countries which are investing at a scale and speed that we may struggle to match.

As the Royal Society celebrates its 350th anniversary, we want to provoke a richer debate about the contribution that science and innovation will make to the UK’s future. If the right policy choices are made now, the UK can remain at the vanguard of international science and secure its prosperity throughout the scientific century.

The Royal Society
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