The SCI launches its manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy

The Society of Chemical Industries (SCI) has just launched its manifesto for an Industrial Science & Innovation Strategy.

The proposals in the manifesto support the commercialisation of science’s whole lifecycle, from a legally binding ministerial commitment on minimum levels of R&D spending to large-scale production incentives. Sharon Todd, the SCI’s Chief Executive said its adoption is a must if the UK is to “prevent economic stagnation”.

The SCI was prompted to produce their manifesto because they believe the UK is at huge risk of falling behind in the race to become an innovation superpower and, by extension, attract the investment required to stimulate economic growth and secure Britain’s position as an international frontrunner in science and the scientific industry.

The SCI claim that without a “detailed, focused industrial strategy”, the UK could lose out on £230bn and 240,000 jobs by 2030 alone. It is also very pointed in its opinion of minister’s past performance. They state failed government policies over the last few decades have caused the UK to “literally leak revenue and jobs to our international rivals” before Ms Todd added:

“We have some of the greatest scientific brains and institutions in the world in the UK, but a lack of political commercial nous has meant that their great ideas are scaled-up and mass produced in other countries.”

The manifesto calls on ministers to spend 0.6% of GDP on R&D. Currently the UK lags behind the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s average R&D spend of 0.46%.

The other policies proposed in the manifesto include:

  • A mandate for pension schemes to invest in a superfund R&D intensive industry.
  • Tax credit incentives for largescale production facilities that provide jobs, attract greater investment in science commercialisation and help the UK hit net zero targets.
  • The creation of an Innovation & Science Growth Council with a direct line to the Prime Minister to help the Government select Science Enterprise Zones and develop its Innovation Implementation Act.
  • The introduction of simpler R&D tax incentive schemes with a broader audience so more companies can benefit and more skilled employment can be created.
  • A more flexible visa scheme for scientists so they can live and work in the UK whilst working in other locations for long periods as part of their employment.
  • A reform of technology transfer offices so that universities have to back a minimum number of spinouts and make it more attractive for founders to accept financial terms.
  • Incentives for venture capital to invest in scientific start-ups.
  • Tax incentives for strategically important projects that ramp up production of scientific products and boost the economy to lessen the risk of these projects going to other countries with more attractive tax regimes.
  • Tax credits for largescale projects that can be shown to help the UK reach its net zero targets, aligned with the UK’s overall industrial strategy.

While we would never comment on the political content within the manifesto, we are fully committed to the future of innovation in the UK and to doing everything we can to ensure innovative businesses of all sizes and at every stage of their lives have the support they need to maximise the value and the impact of their inventions.

As the need to encourage innovation has never been as great - both from the point of view of redressing the current economic situation and going some way to solving the energy food and climate crises we all face - the adoption of even some of the proposals our colleagues at the SCI have put forward would send a strong statement out to the world in terms of the ambition the UK has to capitalise on the ideas coming out of this country.