In his spending review announcement yesterday, George Osborne said “one of the best ways you can back business is by backing science”.
And he’s right. Research shows that every public pound invested in science boosts private sector R&D output by 20p per year, every year. Not only that, but investment in science results in the development of highly skilled scientists and engineers who go on to work in the UK.
But it’s not just about business – all the evidence points to investment in science bringing about significant financial returns, as well as the creation of high-value jobs and an increase in productivity. It catalyses economic growth in nearly all areas of society, including education, security and health.
I’m therefore delighted that amid some major government cuts, the chancellor is backing science. He has delivered real-term maintenance of investment in this area, and we can look forward to a decade of support for an industrial strategy, cash protection for innovation funding, protection of funding for high-cost subjects in higher education, and some much needed protection for adult skills funding. This is good news for science in the UK, and therefore good news for business and the wider society.
Naomi Weir is acting director of Campaign for Science & Engineering (CaSE), an independent science advocacy group. See her full City AM article here.