For the UK to become the world’s most innovative economy, it is essential that we have the people with the knowledge, capabilities and ambition to lead research and innovation activities in academia and industry.
The Government’s aspiration to refocus the UK’s economy on more R&D intensive activity will only be achieved if universities and business can develop, attract and retain the talent and skills needed to drive it. It will require a broad and highly skilled workforce across science and research. From technicians and scientists to entrepreneurs and researchers to leaders and experts, all are essential to achieve this goal.
The UK does not just need more people with the right skills, but also a culture of collaboration and mobility between academia and industry. Driving forward the skills and talent needs that are a prerequisite of an R&D intensive economy is only possible if the UK fundamentally rethinks research careers. Remaining with the current system will mean that R&D will remain too siloed, homogenous, unrewarding and potentially unattractive.
There are no quick fixes, but we are leading the way in considering how the researcher workforce can be better understood and how a culture of mobility and collaboration between industry and academia can be developed.