Proportion of GDP spent on science and engineering still on the decline…

The Government statistics on expenditure on science, engineering and technology (SET) for 2012-13 were published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week.  Some interesting stuff in there…
ONS analysis of spend 2012We’re still seeing a decline in UK Government’s spend on science and engineering as a proportion of GDP (from about 0.8% in 2002 to just over 0.6% in 2012).  But getting underneath how the money’s spent is even more interesting.   Analysing the UK Government’s net spend on Research Councils’ research and development (by Frascati type of activity) over the 10 years to 2012, we see some increase in the last 10 years (although a leveling off in the last 4) -but it is the way in which the funding has been applied that has seen significant change. The proportion of that spend on basic research is declining in favour of research (basic oriented and applied specific) with more defined/practical outcomes.

As we said in our response to the recent BIS consultation on capital funding, financial support risks falling to a level where it is difficult for research councils and universities to support basic (“blue skies”) research meaning radical novel ideas can be lost for decades if not supported early because of restrictions on funds.  While the attraction in supporting research that has an immediate or short term impact is obvious, the impact of the switch in the long term may be much more profound.

Click on the chart for the full ONS dataset.

 

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