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Science and technology in the UK: 2006 census

AuthorsD'Este Cukierman, Pablo CSIC ORCID; Neely, Andy
Issue DateJan-2007
PublisherAdvanced Institute of Management Research
CitationD'Este Cukierman, P., Neely, A. Science and technology in the UK: 2006 census. Londres: The Advanced Institute of Management Research, 2007
AbstractEvery year, the UK spends £21 billion in the creation of new knowledge – via the science system in universities, research institutes and companies. This investment forms part of an estimated £600 billion, which is spent by OECD countries around the world, involving some 3 million researchers. Not surprisingly, every country asks the same questions – what are we getting out of this investment? And is it enough? To shed some light on the current situation in the UK, this report provides a census of the UK’s science and technology system. It draws on publicly available data to review the performance of the UK science and technology system, both in terms of the investments made in the system and the outputs it delivers. Inevitably the census provides a partial picture of the UK’s science base. The available data covers some of the activities being undertaken, but by no means all of them. Even with this caveat, the data that are available – particularly when viewed in terms of long-term trends – offer some interesting insights into the relative performance of the UK. Key among these insights are: ■ The UK has been under-investing in research and development relative to comparator countries for over 20 years, both in terms of total and per capita R&D investment. Business and government are the two R&D investing sectors largely responsible for this under-investment. ■ The UK remains one of the leading countries in terms of scientific production. However, the UK’s performance varies significantly across academic disciplines. The UK performs outstandingly in most biology and bio-medical related fields, but its performance in chemistry, engineering and physics is relatively weak. ■ In chemistry and physics, the UK’s share of world publications has decreased over the period 1996-2003, and it is ranked below many comparator countries2 in terms of the relative citation index. In engineering the UK also shows a decreasing share of world publications over the period 1996-2003, and it is the third lowest in terms of relative citation index (above only Japan and Finland amongst our set of comparator countries). ■ The UK has under-performed throughout the 1980s and 1990s – relative to the comparator countries – in terms of patenting, both per capita and per unit of investment (i.e. business expenditures on R&D). The UK’s underperformance is particularly marked relative to Germany, Japan and several small, high-tech countries. ■ Finally, the UK remains comparatively well connected to the international science and technology system, as shown by the share of R&D investment and patenting activities conducted abroad by UK companies, and the high proportion of R&D investment in the UK by non-UK owned companies. These findings have several implications for the UK, in terms of the performance of the science and technology system. ■ While the UK has traditionally been one of the world’s leading countries in terms of the generation of scientific knowledge, it is questionable whether this position can be sustained given the long-term trends with regard to R&D investment and scientific performance. ■ This question of sustainability becomes even more significant in light of the emergence of new centres of knowledge creation – i.e. referred to as the newcomer countries in this study. One could view these ‘newcomer countries’ as new competitors in terms of the production of scientific and technological knowledge. ■ However, scientific competition may not be the right way to think about the challenge posed by the newcomer countries. If we adopt the perspective of an open science and innovation system, the emergence of new centres of knowledge production should be seen as an opportunity for scientific collaboration. In this sense, the challenge for the UK is how to ensure it can engage in the global knowledge production process and develop the countries capacity to absorb relevant knowledge.
Description56 pages, 10 tables, 44 figures
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Appears in Collections:(INGENIO) Libros y partes de libros

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