The UK pharma trade body, the ABPI, has welcomed the findings of the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the UK Science Budget.
The report found that although the UK has historically punched above its weight in its research base as a ‘science superpower’, it has fallen behind global competitors in R&D investment. As a result, the UK risks losing competitiveness, productivity and high-value jobs unless the Government spends to address this issue.
Dr Virginia Acha, the ABPI’s executive director of research, medical and innovation, says: “The committee’s findings strongly support our position that sustained and stable government funding for science and innovation are essential for attracting inward investment into the UK.”
The report’s authors also expressed dismay at the steep decline in research and development in certain departments, largely as a result of budget limitations, but also hampered by a lack of transparency around the budgets in question.
The committee set out 13 recommendations for the government, including expanding tax incentive schemes for innovation businesses, and increasing public and private R&D investment in the UK to 3% of GDP.
The enquiry follows July’s Dowling Report, which noted the great strength of collaboration between UK universities and global pharmaceutical companies. It comes as the All Party Parliamentary Group for life sciences, led by MP Kit Malthouse, wrote to the Chancellor, the Business Secretary and the life sciences minister to call for the Government to maintain its protected science spending in the Comprehensive Spending Review.
Dr Acha continues: “We welcome the committee’s call to government to support and grow both basic science resource and capital spend in the forthcoming spending review, and not to embark on a radical redesign of funding mechanisms, which could harm the UK’s world-leading research program.
“The Dowling Report, published earlier this year, highlighted the strength of collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and universities in the UK with 15 of the top 40 most collaborative companies being pharmaceutical companies. Following on from the proposals in its Green Paper on higher education last week, it is essential that the Government does not jeopardise the strong and productive links that are already established between academia and industry in its redesign of the research landscape.
“Pharmaceutical investment in the UK is based on a stable and supportive environment for R&D including the quality of the academic science base, a highly skilled workforce and strong fiscal incentives. The UK’s current position as one of the world-leaders in science is well founded but sustained government investment will be essential to maintain this position against increasing global competition.”