Should Science Investment be Determined by Industrial and Economic Priorities?

The UK Science minister, Lord Drayson, has called for a debate about weather a larger proportion of the research budget should be allocated to areas which could directly benefit the economy.

During his lecture at The Foundation for Science and Technology, Lord Drayson said that, in light of the current economic climate, he wanted to “stimulate a debate on our national science and innovation strategy, and whether it is adequately geared up to cope with the future.”

He then went on to ask his audience whether the time had come to make choices about the balance of investment in science projects based on their compatibility with industrial and economic priorities.

This has heightened concerns amongst scientists that pure research will lose out to areas that have commercial potential.

Nick Dusic, of the Campaign for Science and Engineering in the UK (Case), told the BBC that Lord Drayson’s proposal could undermine the government’s hard work in building up the UK’s research base over the past decade.

“There has been a lot of effort over the last few years to increase the impact of the research base, including setting grand challenges and creating new institutions to focus on translational research,” he said. “More direction from the government would cause alarm across the research community”.

Read more about this story on the BBC News website

A recording and transcript of the lecture is available on The Foundation for Science and Technology website