Supplementary memorandum submitted by
Imperial Chemical Industries Group plc
There is much to commend in the objectives of
the White Paper.
ICI strongly supports investment in the academic
science base, as this is very much the engine for future (longer-term)
growth potential. We would caution funds allocated for infrastructure
renewal are "selectively" allocated, perhaps taking
account of REA ratings in order to ensure that we maintain and
enhance our world-class establishments.
Increasing the PhD stipend is a sound move and
should go some way towards encouraging British students to pursue
The move to provide funding to attract top researchers
in to UK academia is laudable; however, it is not clear how this
will be handled within the existing infrastructure. Will the funds
go towards enhanced salaries or to assist research activities?
We strongly support the move to provide a more
focused approach to career development for fixed-term contract
ICI has over the years assisted in the non-vocational
training of university researchers working on collaborative projects
with the company, eg CASE students, teaching company associates
and sponsored post doctoral fellows. We would be pleased to make
some of our training material more generally available.
The proposed Science Ambassadors programme will
undoubtedly receive support from our UK based science and engineering
professionals. Many have been involved with the BAAS and the neighbourhood
engineers programme over the years.
ICI has since its foundation in 1926 worked
closely with the academic sector and prides itself on the mutual
trust between company researchers and their academic collaborators.
This has largely been in the area of basic underpinning science
The introduction of the Higher Education Reach
out to Business and the Community seems to offer potential for
universities to carry forward projects to "proof of principal"
stage and we look forward to identifying opportunities for ICI
to further engage with UK universities. We will also address the
specific support to SMEs through promoting as appropriate through
our supply chain network.
The creation of Foresight generated tremendous
energy across the industrial/academic sectors and helped considerably
in developing an improved mutual understanding of "needs
It is good news therefore that a new Foresight
fund is to be launched. However, £15 million seems too little
for investing in the target areas identified by the "Foresight
As we stated in our submission to the Common's
S&T Committee on "Are We Realising Our Potential"
"The reports produced by the individual
Foresight panels and the overview summary report were exemplary
and established an excellent platform for investing in the science
and technology of the future. However, I would suggest that the
level of investment is still rather short of that anticipated
through the first Foresight phase. I take as an example, the highest
priority identified by the Chemicals Panel, ie creation of a "Centre
for Applied Catalysis". This was granted a Foresight Challenge
award of £3m over 4 years. Hardly world-class?"
Increased funding for Faraday Partnership is
welcomed as we see this as a means to developing an applied research
centre network in the UK akin to the Fraunhofer Society in Germany.
This greatly facilitates University to Industry technology transfer
(and subsequent commercialisation).
8 January 2001