In the media
Last Thursday, we published our report Rocket Science, exploring how the UK can become a science superpower. Read the Financial Times write up here and lead author Matt Burnett’s City AM op-ed here. William Hague mentioned the report in his piece for The Times.
The Independent referred to findings from our report Street Bids whilst discussing Rishi Sunak’s plans to slash the number of empty shops across the UK. The leadership contender also endorsed a number of Onward policies in his higher education reform package.
Our recent poll on Conservative voter preferences was referenced in the New Statesman and FT.
Onward fellow Tim Pitt wrote for the FT the lessons from conservative economic history for growth and taxes.
Director Will Tanner was quoted in Peter Foster’s Financial Times article on the role of charities in the cost of living crisis.
Will was also quoted in the New Statesman about declining support for democracy among young people.
From panel events to drinks receptions and policy roundtables, Onward is running a busy events programme with leading politicians at the Conservative and Labour party conferences this autumn. If you would like to find out more about what we are planning please email our Head of Events David Comerford.
As the final two Conservative leadership candidates talk tax cuts and public spending neither are addressing the full extent of the UK’s economic woes.
Many of the long-term problems the economy faces are caused by governments’ underinvestment in R&D. For the last three decades the amount of money that the UK has spent on R&D has been slipping behind our global rivals, driving down productivity and living standards.
Even if we had simply matched the OECD average, we would have spent an additional £212 billion on R&D in the last twenty years. Given R&D is a key driver of productivity it’s no surprise the UK economy is struggling.
This shortfall is driven by a lack of business investment in science. Brexit has caused a great deal of uncertainty for firms, but Whitehall churn has been just as much to blame.
This absence of strategy and lack of funding risks damaging our areas of strategic strength. Since 2010 the UK’s net pharmaceutical exports fell from 4th highest in the world to 98th. Equally concerning is the impact that it will have on our competitiveness in future technologies such as AI, quantum computing and nuclear fusion. In an increasingly geopolitically uncertain world, these will be vital for national security.
If the UK is to maintain its position as a geopolitical and economic powerhouse then the two leadership candidates need to focus on science. Last week Onward published research, endorsed by former Foreign Secretary William Hague and four former science ministers, calling on the next Prime Minister to turn the UK into a Science Superpower.
They will be tempted to focus on short-term answers to our most pressing problems. But we can no longer afford to kick the can down the road on R&D. The next Government will need to spend much more than their predecessors to catch up with global rivals and provide stability to make the UK more attractive investment.
If we don’t treat science as a strategic asset we will resign ourselves to a future of geopolitical irrelevancy and economic malaise.
Head of Science and Technology
A longer version of this article appeared in City AM on 04.08.22
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