The UK has always been at the forefront of global innovation. From creating the World Wide Web to the rollout of the first Covid vaccine, its history in science and innovation shines bright.
But today, there’s a new challenge. The UK is “lagging in its bid to be a science superpower,” even though there’s significant recognition of its scientific excellence.
Other countries invest more and are attracting capital that could have been Britain’s. This backdrop creates a pressing need for a strategy to ensure the UK doesn’t fall behind.
Investing in Ideas and Nurturing Start-ups
Tech Transfer Offices
Tech Transfer Offices
One of the solutions proposed is a government-directed structure to ensure efficiency. This is a one-stop shop for scaling advice and support.
Alongside this, the Venture Capital approach will help businesses during their challenging early days, making sure they don’t fall into the ‘valley of death’ which so many start-ups face.
Growing Businesses and Expanding Manufacturing
Pension Fund Reform & R&D Tax Credits
Two significant proposals from the manifesto that can drive growth. Letting pension funds invest in promising start-ups is a game-changer, unlocking potential billions for new businesses.
At the same time, tax credits can provide the necessary financial support for science projects aiming to expand.
Special attention is also given to the environment, with additional credits like the Net Zero Credit encouraging investments that align with the UK’s environmental goals.
Full Scale Manufacturing
To make the UK a hub for science-based manufacturing, the manifesto introduces the Science Scaling Incentive. This is aimed at boosting large-scale investment in the science sector.
Building Collaborative Communities
Visa Mobility Scheme
International collaboration is the future of science. This scheme offers scientists a unique 10-year mobility period, fostering a community where knowledge, expertise, and global teamwork thrive.
Sharon Todd, SCI’s chief executive, offers a stark warning. The UK is at risk of “losing the race to becoming a science superpower.”
With outdated policies, the UK is, as she says, “literally leaking revenue and jobs to our international rivals.”
The Economic Stakes
Failure to adopt the proposed methods might result in the UK losing an estimated £230 billion and 240,000 jobs by 2030.
But, beyond the figures, it’s about being a part of the worldwide scientific conversation and advancement.
AstraZeneca, for example, chose Dublin over North-West England, and this shows the broader effects of the country’s current strategy.
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Push for a Unified Approach
The SCI Manifesto doesn’t just propose isolated measures. It’s advocating for a unified Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy.
This cohesive approach spans from the birth of an idea to its full-scale manufacturing. It’s not about cherry-picking strategies but implementing a comprehensive plan.
This includes more R&D investment, flexible visa schemes for scientists, and strategic reforms.
A potential Innovation Implementation Act is on the cards, which might draw inspiration from successful international models.
Addressing The Government
There’s also talk of an Innovation & Science Growth Council to advise the government directly.
Sharon Todd says it clearly: “This is one of the most pivotal points in the UK’s treasured science and industrial history.”
The UK has some of the world’s best scientific minds. But without a concrete plan, their brilliant ideas might find better support outside the UK.
Support for the manifesto isn’t limited to SCI. Liam Condon, CEO of SCI Corporate Partner Johnson Matthey, believes that addressing global issues like climate change requires both “innovation and supportive policy.”
He sees the SCI’s strategy as a roadmap to guide the UK.
The Manifesto for Science & Innovation Strategy doesn’t mince words. “There is no escaping that the UK is losing the race to becoming a science superpower…”
It goes on to point out that while the UK has many advantages in excellence, it lacks the urgency seen in other nations.
The Ball is in Our Court
The SCI Manifesto offers a clear path forward. Through its detailed strategies spanning every stage of the scientific business lifecycle, the UK can once again stand tall as a global science superpower.
The time has come to act. The plans are in place. The commitment to make these concepts a reality is all we need.
Hundreds of thousands of jobs and hundreds of billions of pounds in economic benefits might be on the table. The ball is in the UK’s court.