I’m sorry for the long gap since my last blog. I’ve been in London and otherwise occupied. European events have been dominating my time, in particular this week’s European summit. I had my say about that in Tuesday’s DN.
The other big event of the week here is of course Nobel Week, reaching its climax with the Prize Awards Ceremony on Saturday, to which I’m hugely looking forward.
It’s not of course disconnected from the problems of the economy, which I wrote about in DN.
The UK government sees science and innovation as drivers of economic growth. On 8 December the UK published its Innovation & Research Strategy for Growth. Despite the difficult economic climate the UK’s knowledge base remains the most productive in the G8. Not only have we maintained the annual science budget at £4.6bn but we have invested an additional £495 million in capital projects, and we are focusing on improving incentives for SMEs to innovate.
The capital funding includes funding for graphene – the star of last year’s Nobel Awards – the strongest and thinnest material in the world and a game changer for computer processing power and lightweight materials.
It also includes funding for high performance computing to support industries such as automotive and aerospace. We are also launching a series of technology and innovation centres under the name Catapult – facilities which will commercialise innovation and research in high value manufacturing, cell therapy, and offshore renewable energy.
We have been following Swedish developments, particularly the Swedish Innovation Strategy and the upcoming Swedish Research Bill, with interest.
And we have been working productively together this year at the EU level to ensure that the Horizon 2020 proposals for the EU’s future approach to science and innovation reflect our shared priorities.
We, like Sweden, continue to encourage more joint working between universities, the healthcare service and the pharmaceutical industry.
On 5 December, David Cameron announced £180 million to bring new drugs and medical technologies to market through a “biomedical Catalyst Fund” open to universities and SMEs.
Sweden and the UK are both strong in Medtech and in the biology that underpins drug discovery and combating infectious diseases as well as many other areas. Both countries want to see faster and higher quality commercialisation of new life saving techniques to patients.
So, as we congratulate the Nobel winners this week, we can be confident in Sweden and the UK when it comes to renewed focus on innovation and growth. But we need to be innovative in our approach to innovation and keep pushing those boundaries!