BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 March, 2004, 13:41 GMT
UK science strategy launched
Microscope, BBC
The treasury will review funding needs and policy priorities
UK Chancellor Gordon Brown outlined his plans on Tuesday to introduce a long-term strategy for supporting science in Britain over the coming decade.

Mr Brown issued proposals to assess funding needs ahead of this summer's spending review, with a 10-year investment plan as a central priority.

"The Britain that succeeds in the new world will be a leader in science, skills and enterprise," he said.

Researchers hope the review will lead to a major increase in funding.

The government says it wants to make Britain one of the most competitive locations in the world for science, research, development and innovation.

We still need to get science out of the labs, into our companies and on to the balance sheet
Patricia Hewitt, Trade and Industry Secretary
The planned review, which was outlined at a Downing Street meeting with leading scientists, will encompass an assessment of funding needs and policy priorities.

"We have to make it a priority as a nation to invest in what is the key to our whole economic future and well-being - our science and skills," Mr Brown said.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt added: "We still need to get science out of the labs, into our companies and on to the balance sheet."

Broad welcome

The Royal Society, the UK's academy of sciences, broadly welcomed the move, but said it would only succeed if other measures were met.

"The scientific community will continue to provide the proof that this investment benefits the nation," said Lord May of Oxford, president of the Royal Society.

"But this can only be achieved if our universities are well-funded, industry invests more in research, and our researchers are allowed to push back the frontiers of knowledge unencumbered by excessive red tape and bureaucracy."

Dr Peter Cotgreave, director of pressure group Save British Science, said the plan was a positive development.

"Getting four cabinet ministers and the science minister in the same room to talk about something doesn't happen very often and I think this is a sign they think it's important," Dr Cotgreave told BBC News Online.

"But there are no numbers on this and we won't know those until July. So one has to have a caveat that it has to be real money and it has to go into the science base, not just things ministers can interfere in," he added.

Also at the meeting were science minister Lord Sainsbury, chief scientific adviser to the government Sir David King, and Education Secretary Charles Clarke.

"What the universities need to do is make commercialisation of their inventions attractive [to academics]," said David Tubby, partner at law firm Marks and Clerk, which specialises in patents and trade marks.

"If university researchers are more commercially aware, that benefits them, it benefits the university and even the country as a whole."

Science and engineering is currently earmarked for 3bn of investment in 2005-6 through the Office of Science and Technology.

Think tank urges space fund boost
01 Mar 04  |  Science/Nature
Research funding 'needs review'
17 Nov 03  |  Science/Nature
Research funding cut confirmed
28 Jul 03  |  Education
Research focus under attack
19 Jun 03  |  Education

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | World | UK | England | Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales | Politics
Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health | Education
Have Your Say | Magazine | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific