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expert reaction to the Prime Minister’s speech on the economy post-COVID

In a speech Boris Johnson laid out his plan for the UK’s economic recovery post COVID, including plans for infrastructure and green development. 


Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“The Prime Minister has set out his ambition to rebuild our economy. It is critical that the UK has a clear plan for recovery. While the pandemic has exacted a heavy toll, it also provides an opportunity for positive disruption. Engineers have the skills, insights and ingenuity to help tackle many of these challenges in ways that optimise efficiency, economy, safety and reliability – and they have been central to the pandemic response, from manufacturing ventilators in record time to building the Nightingale hospitals.

“We strongly support the drive to elevate the UK to be a science and engineering superpower. Engineering will be central to the success of the proposed radical innovation agency, providing the essential connection between research and innovation to enable technological and commercial breakthroughs. Such a funding mechanism will require cultural change but could address the UK’s historic under-investment in innovation, unlock positive disruption and enable step changes in technology that could reverberate far across society.

“Net zero is an extremely tough but necessary target, and the future of the UK’s decarbonisation and path to net zero is contingent on key decisions made by the government during this parliament. Three decades is a very short time to completely renew, upgrade, install and secure entire parts of the UK’s national infrastructure but if government is willing to take a truly holistic view of the system then the engineering community stands ready to deliver on the promise and potential of decarbonisation.”


Professor Fiona Watt FRS FMedSci, Executive Chair of the Medical Research Council, said:

“I’m encouraged by the phrase ‘…must end the chasm between invention and application…’ because this is so important for ensuring that medical research findings are translated to patient benefit.”


Declared interests

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

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