It’s time to burst the biomedical bubble in UK research

A new study calls for a rebalancing of research and innovation funding to better meet the UK’s economic, social and health needs

The political turmoil over recent days has meant that a speech last week by Sam Gyimah, minister for universities and science, hasn’t received the attention it deserves. Opening the Schrödinger Building in Oxford, Gyimah set out in the most comprehensive terms yet why the government has made the biggest increase in research spending for 40 years, and set a further ambitious target of investing 2.4% of GDP in research and development (R&D) by 2027 (up from roughly 1.7% now).

Although the venue inevitably invited a few Schrödinger-related gags about paradoxes in the government’s policies for science and Brexit, it was a meaty speech – the most substantive intervention by Gyimah since he inherited the brief from Jo Johnson at the start of 2018. He stressed the need to “take a long and serious look at the structure of our economy” in pursuit of “new sources of growth, and a vision of how to succeed.”

The increase we are aiming for would represent the equivalent of four new Rolls-Royces, four new GSKs and four new Oxford Universities, together with making Manchester and Birmingham as R&D-intensive as the East of England. And a new Tech City for good measure. In short, it represents a transformation of the economy for the better.”

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