Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Chemical Industries Association
We have chosen to submit comments based on the
following broad themes which the consultation paper encompasses:
1. Science and Innovation White Paper, Excellence
and Opportunity, July 2000.
2. Science Budget 2001-2 to 2003-4.
Our comments are set out below.
CIA applauds the Science and Innovation White
Paper and Science Budget for the period 2001-2 to 2003-4 since
they send a very clear signal that the Government recognises and
appreciates the key role of science and engineering in the UK.
If the plans and expenditure proposals contained
within these documents are carried out as outlines, then the science
base in the UK should be strengthened enormously, reversing the
decline over the past decade.
CIA believes that special emphasis still needs
to be placed by Government on science teaching, especially in
primary schools; the issue of student quality, quantity and debt
management; HEFCE's Research Assessment Exercise; innovation and
marketing; Intellectual Property Rights and the public acceptance
of science-areas which are all vital in supporting and promoting
science in society in this country.
Science education must begin at primary school
level in order that sciences role in, and importance to, society
is firmly embedded in the minds of children at an early age.
The lack of suitably qualified primary school
science teachers, poor school facilities and the curtailment of
the teaching of science in schools due to the impinging effects
of Health and Safety legislation, present real barriers to exciting
the interest of children in the study of science, especially chemistry.
Student quality, quantity, and the increasing
financial burden on students are important issues for the Government
to tackle in order to ensure that the chemicals industry has a
steady stream of high quality science and engineering graduates.
The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) needs
to be radically altered to reward academe for their strengths
in teaching, research and/or technology transfer.
Greater emphasis urgently needs to be placed
on business-driven innovation so that inventions developed in
the UK are fully exploited by industry in this country.
The Government's desire to transfer ownership
if IPR, generated as a result of publicly funded research, to
academe needs to be properly evaluated, especially if industry
is involved. We believe that industry should have the right to
all IPR which arises as a result of any collaborative venture
with academe. Industry should be the preferred entity for marketing
the innovation, and generating wealth as a result of any new knowledge.
The Government and industry must work together
on improving the public's acceptance of science.
The Government and industry must continue to
fund curiosity-driven research, and not focus solely on application
The Government must recognise that there is
a significant and existing science and technology base which is
strategically important to the UK and underpins some of the current
"sexy" areas such as nanotechnology.
The vast number of Government funded innovation
support schemes should be reduced to a select few. This will be
of tremendous assistance to both industry and academe in reducing
the time and money spent in their search for grants.
The Government should not overlook the importance
of the chemical sector to the UK economy since it often develops
and supplies the basic raw materials, some of which are extremely
innovative and complex, for use by other "high-technology"
industries such as pharmaceuticals and telecommunications.
1. SCIENCE AND
CIA applauds the Science and Innovation White
Paper, published in July 2000, since it represents a clear demonstration
of the Government's commitment to science and innovation in the
The White Paper provides a clear synopsis of
Government's strategies for:
promoting scientific excellence through
an investment of £1 billion (£775 million from Government
and £250 million from the Wellcome Trust) in the Science
Research Infrastructure Fund, an additional allocation of £250
million in key research areas: genomics, e-science and basic technology,
an increase in basic support for postgraduate students to £9,000
per annum, and by allowing overseas students to obtain a work
permit with relative ease so that they may remain in the UK and
contribute to its science base;
increasing the profile of science
and technology in schools by running a "science year"
in 2001-02, and by creating a "science ambassadors"
programme whereby former science students encourage the up-take
of science and technology in their old schools;
supporting innovation by creating
a Higher Education Innovation Fund (incorporating the Higher Education
Reach Out to Business and the Community Fund) worth £140
million, doubling of Faraday Partnerships from four to eight,
allocating £15 million to a new Foresight Fund to exploit
ideas from the Foresight programme, recognising the role and importance
of intellectual property in facilitating innovation, and improving
industry-academe collaborations by providing £50 million
per annum to the Regional Innovation Fund, and support for 20
recognising the importance of a public
dialogue on the role and importance of science in society, especially
the need for improving consumer confidence in science. The proposal
to develop stronger guidelines for use of scientific advice by
Government, and a code of practice for Government scientific advisors
is to be welcomed.
Although the Government's White Paper is thorough
and wide-ranging, it is not revolutionary. It does, however, represent
a positive step change for the United Kingdom by providing a firm
foundation for investment in, and exploitation of, science in
CIA believes that special emphasis still needs
to be placed on science teaching, especially in primary schools;
the issue of student quality, quantity and debt management; HEFCE's
Research Assessment Exercise; innovation and marketing; Intellectual
Property Rights and the public acceptance of scienceareas
which are all vital in supporting and promoting science in society
in this country.
Our specific comments on each of these topics
are briefly outlined below:
Science teaching in primary schools
The lack of suitably qualified primary school
science teachers, as exemplified by the Council for Science and
Technology's project on science teachers undertaken last year,
poor school facilities, and the curtailment of the teaching of
practical science in schools due to the impinging effects of Health
and Safety legislation, are of worry to CIA. They present real
barriers to exciting the interest of children in the study of
science, chemistry in particular, at primary school level.
We feel that it is vital to teach, and to extol,
natural sciences at this level in order to ensure that science's
role in, and importance to, society is firmly embedded in the
minds of children at an early age.
Scientifically qualified and confident primary
school teachers play an instrumental role in this regard, and
greater effort needs to be placed by the Government on the recruitment,
retention and motivation of individuals who wish to pursue a career
in teaching science in primary schools.
The poor state of science facilities and equipment
in schools can also curtail the undertaking of scientific experiments
at primary [and secondary] school level. This problem is further
compounded by excessive application of Health and Safety legislation
which can act as a deterrent to schools.
It is worth stressing that science is an intensely
practial subject, and it is this aspect which is immensely appealing
to young people. The lack of proper school facilities and science
equipment must be reversed if we are to encourage school children's
interest in science.
The Government's desire to increase the profile
of science and technology in schools by running a "science
year" in 2001-02 is most welcome. However, we feel that a
long-term national strategy needs to be formulated in this regard.
The principal aim of which will be to develop an effective synergy
between the wide number of organisations in the UK that are actively
involved in promoting science to young children.
Studentsquality, quantity and debt management
We feel that the student quality and quantity,
together with the increasing amounts of financial burden which
they now face, needs to be urgently reviewed and resolved by Government.
Many CIA member companies increasingly report
variable standards of student quality depending on the Higher
Education Institution they attend. This is especially the case
in natural sciences and engineering graduates in their level of
scientific knowledge, practical ability and interpersonal skills.
We believe that the decline in student quality over the last decade
may be attributable to poor standards in teaching and training
at some universities, and also within schools.
Secondly, CIA is worried by the general decrease
in student numbers undertaking natural sciences and engineering,
due to the perceived lack of reward and future/long-term career
prospects. Training in subjects such as business administration,
economics, information technology, or law is deemed to offer a
much better long-term career with enhanced employability prospects
compared to a career in the sciences.
Thirdly, student debt, accumulated during undergraduate
years at university, now plays an important role in preventing
some students from undertaking a PhD programme (especially in
chemical engineering) or even completing their undergraduate course.
A large proportion of undergraduate students are more concerned
about clearing their student loans rather than pursuing a further
qualification which will burden them with even more debts.
Whilst we welcome the Government's proposal
to increase the basic support for post-graduate research students
to £9,000 per annum by 2003-2004, we would like to see some
more detail as to how this increase will affect industry and the
students it sponsors as businesses do not have a bottomless pit
Overall, the future success of the chemicals
industrya knowledge-driven and knowledge-intensive sectordepends
upon a steady stream of high quality science and engineering graduates
from universities. We hope that the Government will urgently address
the sad demise of student quality, quantity, and increasing levels
of debts in the UK.
HEFCE's Research Assessment Exercise
CIA believes that HEFCE's Research Assessment
Exercise (RAE) should be radically altered to reward academe for
their strengths in teaching, research and/or technology transfer.
The RAE should not judge Higher Education Institutions primarily
on research outputs such as publication rate since this represents
just one of a range of assessment measures/metrics.
Instead a formal bidding system and the use
of a strategic plan should form the basis of any RAE since the
bidding system and the use of plans would allow an institution
to describe its focus and future plans clearly (either in teaching/training,
research and/or technology transfer) together with a critical
assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.
The RAE should also reward true interdisciplinarity,
and not just single subject research collaborations.
Although HEFCE has undertaken a fundamental
review of the RAE post 2001, we feel that it has not substantially
altered the status quo. In fact, the RAE needs to reflect and
act on our views which are also supported by other eminent bodies
like the CBI. This would ensure that the UK retains a high quality
and strategically focused science base which continues to be attractive
to industry, especially the chemicals sector. A copy of CIA's
submission to the HEFCE on their consultation on the RAE post
2001 is attached for information.
Innovation and Marketing
The Science White Paper recognises the importance
of innovation to the knowledge-driven UK economy. However, CIA
strongly feels that it uses the term innovation very loosely,
both to mean "creativity" and its more correct definition
of "bringing technology to the market place".
Innovation is driven by three facets, namely,
ideas, technology and business. As a nation, we are extremely
creative, especially in the generation of ideas and technology-a
glowing tribute of our strong and dynamic science base which we
hope will always be maintained and strengthened.
We believe that our culture is very much technology
push rather than market pull, and greater emphasis urgently needs
to be placed on business-driven innovation, in particular, the
integration of marketing strategies with research and development
activities, as observed in countries such as Japan and the United
States of America.
We are therefore disappointed to learn that
the White Paper fails to make any direct mention of the marketing
of innovation although it does mention markets and their creation
in the context of innovation.
CIA believes that a real culture change is required
in the UK if it is to capitalise on its innovative prowess. This
in turn will help to prevent British inventions from being exploited
overseas, thereby negating wealth creation here. One possible
solution to initiate the culture change is to develop a new breed
of scientist and engineer who not only understands technology
but also marketing.
The Research Councils should also place more
resources into understanding the cultural issues of technology
push vs market pull. We believe that a series of recommendations
need to be developed on how the UK can change its culture, and
how we influence Government, society and the captains of industry,
to make the change happen.
We also feel that one of the "innovation
gaps" lies in the demonstration of research ideas through
to pilot industrial scale. Some years ago, the DTI phased out
the funding of demonstration projects, and we would now like these
to be re-evaluated since they proved immensely useful in promoting
developmental activities in the UK. Any supportive Government
measures on this account will be most welcomed by CIA.
On another important note, the White Paper tends
to focus a great deal on knowledge intensive/high technology sectors
such as pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, information technology.
This is at the expense of more "traditional" knowledge-based
industries such as chemicals. We strongly feel that the Government
should not ignore the role and importance of the chemical sector,
which is research-intensive, innovative and often develops complex
materials for use by the so-called "high-technology"
Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) will increasingly
play a distinctive and pivotal role in the knowledge-driven economy
which will underpin innovation, and drive enterprise in the United
Whilst CIA supports the Government's belief
that effective IPR management should be a fundamental goal of
universities and research bodies in the public sector, we feel
that the impact, transfer and ownership of IPR generated as a
result of government funded research to academe needs to be properly
evaluated. This is especially the case if industry is involved
in the project in order to avoid potential industry-academe conflicts.
This development will hinder Government's desire to foster close
and mutually beneficial industry-academe partnerships.
The Government's proposal on IPR ownership is
probably based on the positive impact in America on technology
transfer from academe to industry due to the 1980 US Bayh-Dole
Act. Many industrial organisations, who wish to collaborate with
US universities, find IPR a principal issue of contention in facilitating
their relationship. The prime reason for this is that US institutions
wish to retain and control intellectual capital. In contrast,
UK universities are much more easier to collaborate with, and
negotiate on, IPR. We want this status quo to continue.
We believe that industry should have the right
to all IPR generated as a result of any collaborative venture
with academe, and certainly if the research work has been supported
by industry and Government. Industry should be the preferred entity
for marketing the innovation, and generating wealth as a result
of any new knowledge.
On another IPR issue, we hope that Government
will support initiatives such as the European Commission's proposal
for a regulation on the Community Patent. This regulation, if
enacted, will foster innovation in Europe. Both industry and academe
will benefit from a substantial reduction in prosecution, translation
and maintenance costs associated with generating IPR which are
currently very high. We feel that a strong but cost effective
IPR regime is certainly warranted within Europe.
Finally, the recently announced "Intellectual
Property Portal" is to be welcomed. We feel that the portal
has the potential to be a powerful knowledge bank of, and tool
for accessing, information on IPR for both users and creators
provided that it is properly managed and developed by Government.
Overall, IPR is an important strategic tool
for the chemical industry. It can be described as a new currency
since it is a tradeable commodity. The chemical sector's competitiveness
and survivability depends upon it for its future success.
Public acceptance of science
There has been a gradual but worrying erosion
of confidence and trust in science, including its regulation,
due to high profile issues such as BSE. CIA believes that improving
public acceptance and confidence in science, and its industrial
exploitation, is vital to progress and innovation in this country.
A key to this is trust in, and impartiality of, scientific advice
supported by an open assessment of the risks associated with science
through a transparent and effective system of regulation by Government
that does not stifle innovation.
The Science and Innovation White Paper acknowledges
the need to for greater openness and transparency within Government,
especially in its use of scientific advice in policy making. We
welcome this development, including the revised version of the
1997 guidelines on "The Use of Scientific Advice in Policy
Making" by the Government Chief Scientific Advisor.
The public understanding of science, including
risks and benefits associated with it, also needs to be improved
greatly. Science-based industries, such as the chemical sector,
also have an important role to play in helping to improve the
image of science. For example, the chemical industry has embarked
on a number of voluntary initiatives such as Responsible Care
and Confidence in Chemicals which aim to reduce risks and environmental
impact of the use of chemicals.
CIA is now increasing its support for the teaching
of science in primary schools, in order to give children a feel
for the excitement of science while they are still able to express
wonderment and curiosity.
A robust education system, supported by trained
teachers at primary and secondary school level who teach science
in a positive, enjoyable and open and pragmatic manner, is vital
if Government is to make any impact on this issue. Our comments
to you in your consultation on the impact of the 1993 White Paper,
"Realising Our Potential", deals in greater detail on
the campaign to spread understanding amongst school children and
Finally, we hope the Government will see industry
as worthy partners in this endeavour.
2. SCIENCE BUDGET
2001-02 TO 2003-04
CIA welcomes the allocation of the science budget
for the period 2001-02 to 2003-04 as a result of the 2000 Spending
Review. This has resulted in a positive financial outcome for
the science and engineering base in the United Kingdom.
Although the science budget follows the proposals
outlined in the Science and Innovation White Paper quite closely,
we would like to make the following additional comments.
The Government must continue to fund
curiosity-driven research, and not focus mainly on applied research.
It is vital to recognise that there is a significant and existing
science and technology base which is strategically important to
the UK and underpins some of the current "sexy" areas
such as green technology.
Chemistry is one such underpinning
science and it does, and will continue to, play a significant
role in technology areas such as biotechnology, functional materials
for the electronics industry and nanotechnology (including catalysis).
The Government must be careful about
funding "buzz-words" of the moment, only to drop them
after two to three years if the science and technology does not
mature as fast as they would like. However, CIA does recognise
that continual investment is required in areas that are regarded
as strategically important to the UK but the emphasis must be
on core science and technology areas not specific projects.
There are far too many initiatives
and sources of grants which currently exist for funding science
and technology projects. Although the Higher Education Innovation
Fund incorporates the Higher Education Reach Out to Business and
the Community Fund, the Science and Innovation White Paper does
nothing to reduce the numerous different funding schemes.
We believe the Government should rationalise
the total number of funding streams by combining or terminating
some of them but without reducing the overall funding levels.
This will be of tremendous benefit and value to both industry
and academe in reducing the time and money spent in their search
The 2000 Science and Innovation White Paper
and Science Budget for the period 2001-02 to 2003-04 represent
important milestones in sending a very clear signal that the Government
recognises, appreciates and supports the key role of science and
engineering in the UK.
If the plans and expenditure proposals contained
within these documents are carried out as outlined, then the science
base in the UK should be strengthened enormously reversing the
decline over the past decade. CIA now eagerly awaits to see how
the Government will translate their proposals into effective implementation
We hope that we have identified some of the
issues which the consultation needs to take into consideration
and address. Through its Science, Education and Technology Committee
(SETCOM) the CIA and its member companies welcomes this opportunity
to work closely with the House of Commons Science and Technology
Committee so that the SET base in the United Kingdom can be strengthened,
for the benefit of Government, industry and academe.