This letter from NCUB’s Head of Policy and Engagement Rosalind Gill was published in The Times on Tuesday 24 April. See here.

Sir, The UK has hedged its bets on becoming a science superpower to drive economic growth. However, our global competitiveness appears to be slipping. A critical indicator of the competitiveness of the science system is its ability to build and attract research and development investment from business, otherwise known as private R&D. Around the world, private R&D investment rose by an average of 5 per cent in real terms in 2022 across the OECD, with even higher growth in countries such as the US, Japan and South Korea. By contrast, private R&D investment in the UK declined by 0.4 per cent.

This suggests that while the UK has sought to strengthen its research and innovation, other countries are going further still. Other governments better recognise that in a changing world with rapidly evolving technologies, research and innovation will define the economic powerhouses of the future. Hence we urge our own government to implement a clear, long-term industrial strategy with R&D at its heart. This strategy must properly identify, prioritise and incentivise investment in technologies where Britain can become world leading.

Rosalind Gill
Head of policy, National Centre for Universities and Business