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expert reaction to Boris Johnson’s announcement on industrial research and development spending under a future Conservative Government

Boris Johnson has announced plans to increase spending on industrial research and development spending under a future Conservative Government.


Prof Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

“Proposed increases in funding for research and development are always welcome. Critically, these should also recognise that real progress and genuine economic impact depend crucially on engineering to deliver real world solutions through R&D and technological innovation. Any future government must therefore address the UK’s severe engineering skills shortage – it is estimated that we need up to 59,000 extra engineers a year. Engineers play a profoundly important role in shaping the world around us, and their work is essential both to tackling climate change and delivering an inclusive economy — from designing sustainable cities and transport systems to delivering clean energy solutions.”


Dr Sarah Main, Executive Director, Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), said:

“The Conservatives are building on earlier pledges, making a welcome long-term investment commitment to boost UK science and innovation.”

”Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister is in line with CaSE’s projection for reaching the previous Government’s goal of R&D investment of 2.4% of GDP by 2027. 

“Questions remain as to the Prime Minister’s intentions on participating in EU research programmes, which bring wide-ranging benefits for example for ease of collaboration.

“With a clear commitment to a long-term rising budget, attention will turn to not how much is committed but how it will be spent. For the UK’s science and engineering strength to serve us best, the next Government must ensure it is supported by not only by funds, but by the people and partnerships that make research happen.”


Prof Venki Ramakrishnan, President, The Royal Society, said:

“Any Government with a long-term vision for a progressive United Kingdom that is thriving economically and leading efforts to tackle global challenges must put science and innovation at the heart of its programme.  The promise of increasing investment in science is a very welcome contribution to this.  However, successful science is not based on money alone and we will also need to maintain full participation in European funding schemes and the collaboration that they promote, rather than trying to replace them.  We will also need to overhaul our immigration system to truly support the international exchange of people and ideas that has always been a bedrock of the success of UK science.”


Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it.  So our policy is not to ask for interests to be declared, instead they are implicit in each person’s affiliation.

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