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Making the UK top for research and innovation

A guest blog post from Professor Moira Whyte OBE FMedSci, registrar at the Academy of Medical Sciences and professor of adult respiratory medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

The Academy of Medical Sciences and our sister academies have set out why we believe research and innovation should be high on the agenda of the next government.

As registrar at the Academy, I joined the panel at the press launch on Monday to set out the strengths of the UK research base and emphasise the potential benefits for health and wealth which could be achieved by ensuring that the UK is the best place to do research.

Representing the full spectrum of disciplines, our joint statement Building a stronger future: Research, innovation and growth calls for the next government to:

  • Place research and innovation at the heart of plans for long-term growth.
  • Secure prosperity by strengthening public investment in research and innovation.
  • Meet demand for research skills through a flexible and diverse workforce.
  • Strengthen policy by embedding expert advice across government.

We need to increase investment levels to help the UK keep pace with other leading knowledge economies. By committing to greater public funding, the government can create the long-term, stable environment needed to attract even greater charity and industry investment. Only through maximising the potential of all the elements within the funding ecosystem can research and innovation fully flourish.

We know that government funding is a catalyst for further investment, so it is essential to protect research budgets across all government departments. The decade-long decline in this spending curtails the breadth of research and stifles a culture of innovation. Funding from sources such as the National Institute for Health Research is also vital to build on excellent underpinning science funded by the MRC, Wellcome Trust and medical charities, and the impact of these funding streams is demonstrated in the powerful case studies recently compiled in a Medical Schools Council report.

Working together, the academies hope to ensure that political acknowledgement of the value of research can be translated into commitments. This will ensure that the UK can continue to attract investment and talent individuals, keeping this country at the front of the global race.

What do you think?

Aisling Burnand MBE, chief executive of AMRC said:

AMRC welcomes this report which makes a compelling case for increased government funding for research and innovation to benefit patients and national prosperity. It recognises the key role medical research charities play in the UK's ecosystem via collaboration and investment of £1.3 billion per annum. The medical advances our members fund depend on enduring government funding for research, researchers and infrastructure.

The Academy of Medical Sciences would be interested in your reflections on this statement, please return comments to Ben Bleasdale (020 3176 2158).