A long term plan for science and innovation

Innovation is the key to a successful economy. We can’t borrow our way out of a debt crisis. We must trade our way out. That means backing the scientists and entrepreneurs who are designing and developing the technologies that will shape our future and then exporting those technologies to the world. This morning I accompanied the Chancellor on a visit to the Eastern Region where he championed the importance of science, research and innovation to the Government’s long term economic plan.
We all know that Britain has a proud past leading the world in pushing the boundary of scientific discovery. Over the past century we have won 78 Nobel prizes, with 12 in the past decade alone.
That’s why I’m proud that the Government has protected the science budget over the next parliament – paid for by difficult decisions on spending elsewhere. The Government is committing £7 billion and working with the scientific community – both researchers and businesses – to determine how it should be best invested. As part of this, the Government will fund a new £200 million polar research ship to put UK scientists at the forefront of research in both the Antarctic and the Arctic oceans. Even though the Government has had to take tough decisions to bring down the deficit, the science budget has been protected at £4.6 billion per year.
The Eastern region is leading the way. The Chancellor today highlighted how fourteen Cambridge cluster companies are worth a billion dollars or more and that the cluster has spawned 1,500 technology-based firms, employing almost 60,000 people. With the A11 Corridor, Hethel Engineering Centre and NRP, our Agri-Tech and cleantech clusters have the potential to bring huge new opportunities to our region, creating businesses and jobs. The Chancellor spoke of how he wanted to take such success in the Eastern Region and make it a British phenomenon.
During the last three years as Government Life Science Adviser and UK Trade Envoy, I have sought to highlight the fact that only by backing British science, supporting businesses seeking to grow off the back of it and protecting investment in it is can we ensure a sustainable recovery.
As the Chancellor said, British science is vitally important to our economic future. Today showed that this Government is backing the UK’s world-leading innovation all the way.




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George Freeman in Westminster


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