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Report reveals value of research to UK

By Redazione

The GBP 2,8 billion (EUR 4 billion) invested annually by the UK Government in its research councils generates considerable economic benefits for the country, a new report reveals.

The study, ‘Excellence with Impact’, shows how the research carried out by the UK’s seven government-funded research councils has led to profitable breakthroughs, improved health and public
policy and brought a better quality of life for British people. The report forms part of the follow up to an action plan released earlier this year which aims to demonstrate and increase the
economic impact of the research councils’ work.

‘The study shows our research councils are playing a vital role in providing the cutting-edge research Britain needs to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive world,’ commented Ian Pearson,
the UK’s Science and Innovation Minister. ‘We need to build on this and make sure more research is taken a step further to benefit our economy and improve our everyday lives – in challenging
and important areas like the environment, our health and our families.’

One example of how science has had a positive impact on many aspects of life is DNA technology. The Medical Research Council’s investments in this field led to the development of the Southern
Blot method, which underpinned the sequencing of the human genome, and DNA fingerprinting technology. Among other things, DNA technologies have revolutionised forensics, making it easier to
identify criminals.

‘The study clearly demonstrates that our research is having powerful and far-reaching impacts and benefits,’ said Professor Philip Esler on behalf of Research Councils UK (RCUK), the body
linking the seven research councils. ‘The knowledge and expertise gained through out investment in people and innovation keep the UK at the cutting-edge of technology, build a strong economy
and improve the health and quality of life of its people. The challenge now is to maximise these effects by embedding economic impact within the strategies, delivery and organisation of the
research councils.’

Under the government’s recent Comprehensive Spending Review, the research councils will see their budget grow by an average of 5.4% a year for the period 2008-2011. RCUK says the money will be
used to boost research in key areas such as energy, environment and ageing research, and also to extend international activities. This autumn the organisation will open offices in Beijing and
Washington DC. An office in Delhi is scheduled for opening early next year.

‘The science budget settlement will enable us to continue our world-leading research and to respond to the major issues facing the UK,’ said Professor Ian Diamond on behalf of RCUK. ‘The
research councils believe that multidisciplinary research is needed to solve many of the next decade’s major challenges. Extra funding will allow us to continue our collaborative work to
address the emerging problems of the 21st century.’

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