Over the past several years, British scientists have grown increasingly nervous at the growing political cry for their scientific research to have an economic impact. They warn that it is next to impossible to predict which basic research avenues will sprout into new technologies or drive economic growth. A new policy report out yesterday gives voice to these concerns and calls for a new government science position to focus on boosting the country's fortunes with research. The report was sponsored by the Institute of Physics and produced by the U.K.'s Campaign for Science & Engineering (CaSE).
In a statement, Hilary Leevers, CaSE Assistant Director and the report's author, said: "It is important that the U.K. gets the greatest possible impact from its investment in science and engineering research. However, initiatives to increase the impact of the research base have been poorly articulated and lacked the evidence necessary to gain the support and confidence of the research community. The Chancellor should appoint a Chief Scientific Adviser to develop the evidence-base and lead a debate about the future direction of the government's economic impact agenda prior to the next spending review."