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Increased science budget should focus on boosting business R&D


The biggest returns would come from helping innovative companies scale up, says Iain Simpson

The UK government’s commitment to substantially increase R&D funding, with the aim of driving economic growth, has caused justifiable excitement. Unfortunately, the government also seems to have fallen victim to the long-standing confusion between science and innovation, thinking that pumping money into blue-sky initiatives such as an Advanced Research Projects Agency will miraculously bring results in innovation.

It is admirable that the UK produces so many highly cited scientific publications. But there is little evidence that this is converted into economic impact. In fact, over the past 30 years, the UK innovation ecosystem has proved to be leaky and has failed to realise its potential.

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