Building our Industrial Strategy: Investing in science, research and innovation

By Dr Kelly Davidge, Research and Development Manager at Kirkstall Ltd

Parliament pic

In the Government’s recently published Green Paper on building the UK’s industrial strategy, they recognise the importance of investment in science, research and innovation and have committed to a number of strategies to boost the UK innovation economy. Although the UK has three of the top 10 and 12 of the top 100 world universities, we lag behind other countries when it comes to investment in innovation through research and development (R&D):

  • 1.7% of UK GDP- gross domestic product- is invested in R&D funding, compared with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average of 2.4%;
  • business investment in R&D is 1% in the UK, but 2% in Germany, 2.5% in Japan and over 3% in South Korea;
  • the UK produces a similar number of spin-off companies to the US but registers fewer patents;
  • none of our universities feature in the top 10 of Reuters Top 100: The World’s Most Innovative Universities – 2016, a list that ranks the educational institutions doing the most to advance science, invent new technologies and drive the global economy.

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Parliamentary Links Day: placing science and engineering at the top of the political agenda

Clare Viney, Royal Society of Chemistry at the Parliamentary Links DAY organised by the Society of Biology
Clare Viney, Royal Society of Chemistry

By Gabriele Butkute, science policy assistant the Biochemical Society

Even though I started working as a Science Policy Assistant at the Biochemical Society and the Society of Biology less than a month ago, a lot has happened, and all of it very exciting. One might wonder how this joint position works (in the beginning so did I!) The Biochemical Society channels its policy work through the (soon to be Royal) Society of Biology, therefore it is useful for the both organisations to have one person who coordinate the joint policy work.

One of the most memorable moments so far has been the Parliamentary Links Day. Every year the Society of Biology organises this event to strengthen the communication between Parliament and the science and engineering community. To add extra sparkle to this year’s event it happened to also be Women in Engineering Day! Continue reading

Supporting scientists on a career break

Last week we launched the Stay Connected Bursaries, a new grant to help scientists on a career break keep up-to-date with scientific developments.

If you’re on a break in your career our new Bursaries can help with the cost of registration, accommodation and care provider cover when attending one of our conferences or other events.

Science moves at a rapid pace, so attending scientific events is a great way to keep informed about the latest developments while between jobs.

You do need to be a member to apply, but if you’re on a career break you can join for just £30 a year as an Associate Member. Not only can you apply for our Stay Connected Bursaries, you will receive free access to the Biochemical Journal, free registration at career events, and discounts on our events and other journals, to name just a few benefits.

Last year we ran a similar grant to support women on a career break, launched as part of the 2013 ‘Women in Biochemistry Year’. An expansion on that, our new Bursaries are available to anyone on a career break for any reason.

While not restricted, the grants are part of our drive to boost diversity in the biosciences and their launch coincided with release of our new Diversity in the Science Sector position statement.

In it, we say it is vital that the bioscience community reflects the make-up of UK society and that barriers, perceived or otherwise, to entering a career in the molecular biosciences are dispelled.

This is not just for moral and ethical considerations – there is a well-established and powerful business case for supporting increased equality and diversity in the science workforce.

Currently, individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds, certain ethnic minorities, women, and people with disabilities are all under-represented in education, training and employment related to science.

As women are more likely than men to take a career break and the impacts of a career break could be more keenly felt by those from a low socio-economic background, we hope our new Bursaries will make a small but important contribution towards boosting diversity in the biosciences.

We have further work underway, including a forthcoming grant focussed in diversity issues. Keep an eye out for it here.

In the meantime, find out more and apply for a Stay Connected Bursary or read our new Diversity in the Science Sector position statement.