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Government pledges further £600m to UK Research Councils

Simon Cooper, Operations Director and Patent and Trade Mark Attorney at AdamsonJones, based at BioCity Nottingham, comments on the Government's decision to commit a further £600 million investment to the UK's science research infrastructure. 

During his Autumn statement on 5 December 2012, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne announced that £600 million would be provided to the Research Councils UK (RCUK). According to the RCUK, this investment will support the development of new technologies and strengthen the UK’s competitive advantage. The following broad areas have been identified for investment:

Big Data and energy efficient computing

Synthetic biology 

Energy storage

Advanced Materials

The RCUK is made up of seven Research Councils, which invest around £3 billion in research every year.

For example, the Institute of Hearing Research, based at the University of Nottingham and the Queens Medical Centre, is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC). The RCUK also provides significant funding for PhD students, research projects and equipment. The Aerospace Technology Centre at the University of Nottingham Innovation Park, for instance, was opened 26 October 2012 and has received over £20 million in EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) funding.

We fully support the decision by the government to provide this additional funding to the RCUK, which will further enhance research into these important technologies in the UK. Nevertheless, the ability to successfully commercialise innovations arising from this research is just as essential in contributing to the growth of our economy. More investment is therefore required to support this commercialisation and facilitate the bringing of new products and services to market, including investment in intellectual property (IP) in the form of patents, trade marks, designs and copyright.

In a report commissioned by the Government and published in May 2011, Professor Hargreaves states that "Innovation is essential to competitive edge, which makes intellectual property (IP) policy an increasingly important tool for stimulating economic growth. Every year in the last decade, investment by UK business in intangible assets has outstripped investment in tangible assets: by £137 billion to £104 billion in 2008. Small and young innovative firms are of crucial importance in terms of growth and jobs…

Investment in IP is necessary to protect the value of research and innovative products and services, and support the commercial opportunities available to research organisations and innovative businesses in the UK and overseas. We therefore urge the government to make a similar financial commitment to the commercialisation of the UK’s research, including investment in IP, for example through the work of the Technology Strategy Board. This would ensure that the welcome increase in investment in research effectively delivers increased commercial opportunities and growth for the UK.

Simon Cooper, AdamsonJones

3 January 2013

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