- Party leaders must adopt the Manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy to ‘prevent economic stagnation’, warns SCI chief executive Sharon Todd
- Proposals support the commercialisation of science’s whole lifecycle – from a legally binding ministerial commitment on minimum levels of R&D spending to large-scale production incentives
- ‘Detailed, focused industrial strategy’ is needed to make sure the UK does not lose out on £230bn and 240,000 jobs by 2030 alone
14 August 2023: The UK risks ‘losing the race to becoming a science superpower’ by attracting investment to stimulate economic growth. SCI, a charity which has advanced the commercial application of science since 1881, is warning that the UK has fallen behind. A package of measures is needed to make the country a competitive place to invest in science and scientific industry, they say.
SCI’s Manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy, launched this morning, includes the call for a legal duty on ministers to spend 0.6% of GDP on research and development (R&D). The UK lags behind the OECD average of 0.46% – one of a litany of policy failures over the decades that have seen the country ‘literally leak revenue and jobs to our international rivals’.
Download SCI's Manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy here.
Other proposed policy interventions include a mandate for pension schemes to invest in a superfund R&D intensive industry. The manifesto also argues for targeted businesses and tax credit incentives for largescale production facilities that provide jobs, attract greater investment in science commercialisation and help the UK hit net zero targets.
The US, for example, is revolutionising its industrial base through the Inflation Reduction Act, a significant package of measures aimed at stimulating investment and jobs. AstraZeneca has decided to locate a new $400m advanced manufacturing facility in Dublin rather than North-west England, because of Ireland’s more attractive financial regime and policy support for green industries. The UK risks losing £230bn of economic growth and 240,000 jobs in life sciences and clean tech alone by 2030 without a focused industrial strategy, according to SCI-commissioned research by L.E.K. Consulting earlier this year.
SCI argues that there must be cross-party agreement to adopt the manifesto in full, because the policies develop every stage of a science product’s lifecycle, from R&D to scale-up to mass production. Cross-party consensus is vital to provide the certainty businesses require to invest for the long-term – they need to know a future administration would not adopt damaging policies.
The policies, outlined in notes to editors below, also include the introduction of a Science & Growth Innovation Council. Comprised of science’s business leaders, the council would have a direct line to the prime minister and opposition leader of the day.
SCI Chief Executive Sharon Todd said:
‘This is one of the most pivotal points in the UK’s treasured science and industrial history. If we stand still, our economy will be blown away by international rivals determined to revolutionise their science and industrial base. If we act, we might just have enough time to catch up, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and boosting the economy by hundreds of billions of pounds.
For decades, governments of all hues have failed to develop a detailed, focused industrial strategy that would prevent economic stagnation. We need cross-party agreement for this strategy, which nurtures every aspect of the science lifecycle, from R&D to largescale production. We have some of the greatest scientific brains and institutions in the world in the UK, but a lack of political commercial nous has meant that their great ideas are scaled-up and mass produced in other countries. The UK is literally leaking revenue and jobs to our international rivals.’
Commenting on the manifesto, Liam Condon, CEO of SCI Corporate Partner Johnson Matthey, said:
‘Addressing climate change by accelerating the net zero transition requires both innovation and supportive policy. The SCI has developed a roadmap that can help the UK lead the way, if we move with a strong sense of urgency.’
‘There is no escaping that the UK is losing the race to becoming a science superpower… Huge investment decisions are being made by our neighbours, attracting capital that would be better placed in the UK. They have few advantages over us but that sense of urgency, which is enough to override any of our advantages in excellence.’