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R&D IS KEY TO ACHIEVING UK’S SCIENCE SUPERPOWER AMBITIONS


The Royal Academy of Engineering is calling on government to improve support for late stage R&D to achieve its ambitions. A report from the National Engineering


Policy Centre warns that the government’s ambitions for the UK to be a leading global innovation-driven, low-carbon economy are likely to fail unless it makes the UK a more attractive place for businesses to invest in and carry out late-stage research and development (R&D). Late-stage R&D is a key part of the


innovation process and accounts for the majority of R&D that businesses carry out. It is how they take a proof-of-concept or prototype through to commercial application, ultimately delivering new and improved products, processes, technologies and services to market and creating jobs in the process. The report states that the socio-


economic benefits that result from late-stage R&D mean that there is a compelling case for the public sector to support it. The UK government also needs


to improve incentives for business investment in late-stage R&D if it is to achieve its stated target of investing 2.4 per cent of GDP into R&D by 2027 and 3 per cent in the longer term, the report recommends. Private sector businesses currently contribute approximately two- thirds of the UK’s R&D investment, much of it in late-stage. To achieve its targets and avoid the looming shortfall in investment of around £20 billion, government must encourage businesses to invest a lot more in R&D, and quickly. Late-stage R&D is iterative, non-linear


and complex and carries risks arising from the scale of the technical challenges, costs, timings, certainty of market opportunity, competitive environment and opportunities or barriers to commercialisation. The study outlines that understanding these and the policy levers at government’s disposal is key to identifying actions that can be taken to ensure more late-stage R&D is carried out in the UK.


TO WORK “Done properly, it will help employees


feel more confident and competent when they get back on the job. It’s about investing the time to protect well-being and to ensure a productive returning workforce,” he says. The way that engineers are welcomed back into the workplace varies by industry, according to the report. Construction and civil engineers suffered the worst post-return anxiety followed by engineering employees. Manufacturing industry performed better but it was the railway sector that came out tops with only 17 per cent of employees saying the re-induction process was poor.


❱❱ Late-stage R&D covers the difficult part of transforming prototypes into marketable products June 2021 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 33


PHOTOGRAPH: ABB


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