05 October 2007

Sainsbury Review of Science and Innovation

The race to the top

Lord Sainsbury of Turville today published his Review of the UK science and innovation system. The Review examines the role of science and innovation in ensuring the UK remains competitive in our increasingly globalised economy.

Company strategies based solely on low costs will end in a downward spiral, each year bringing a new low-cost competitor. The best way for the UK to make the most of globalisation is to support the restructuring of British companies into high-value goods, services and industries.

We should seek to compete with emerging economies in a 'race to the top' rather than in a 'race to the bottom'.

The UK is well placed to take advantage of the new markets opened up by globalisation. We have an extraordinary record of scientific discovery and a rapidly growing share of high-technology manufacturing and knowledge-intensive services in the UK's GDP. The amount of knowledge transfer from British universities has increased significantly and we are beginning to see the growth of exciting high-technology clusters around many of our world-class research universities.

There are, however, many opportunities to build on the successful policies that have been introduced in recent years and key recommendations in the review include:

  • A new leadership role for the Technology Strategy Board Working with the RDA's the Research Councils and government departments to co-ordinate public sector support for technological innovation, leverage public sector resources and simplify access to funds for business.
  • Building on our success in knowledge transfer by giving more support through the Higher Education Innovation Fund to business-facing universities, setting targets for knowledge transfer from Research Councils, doubling the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and extending these further to FE Colleges.
  • A major campaign to enhance the teaching of science and technology including raising the number of qualified STEM teachers, increasing the number of young people studying triple science, improving careers advice, establishing a National Science Competition, and rationalising the many schemes to inspire our young people to take up careers in science and engineering.
  • A key role for Government Departments based on an improved procurement capability, a reformed Small Business Research Initiative managed in partnership with the TSB, and consideration for the incorporation of innovation into the duties of the economic regulators.
  • Increasing the focus of RDAs on science and innovation by encouraging them to put additional resources into TSB programmes, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, high-technology clusters around world-class research universities, and proof-of-concept schemes consistent with a nationally agreed specification.

Lord Sainsbury said:

"The challenge is not to hide behind trade barriers or engage in a 'race to the bottom' but to invest in the future in areas such as knowledge generation, innovation, education, re-training, and technological infrastructure.

Twenty-five years ago it would not have been possible to imagine the UK
as a global leader in science and innovation in the world economy, but today it looks like an attainable goal. We can be one of the winners in 'the race to the top' but only if we run fast".

The documents below are available in Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). If you do not have Adobe Acrobat installed on your computer you can download the software free of charge from the Adobe website. For alternative ways to read PDF documents and further information on website accessibility visit the HM Treasury accessibility page.

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Background information

In November 2006, the Chancellor commissioned Lord Sainsbury to conduct an independent review of the UK Science and Innovation system.

Review Team contact details

The recommendations of the Sainsbury Review will be taken forward by the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (DIUS). Please contact the department if you have any questions: 0207 215 5555

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