To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the money allocated to the Link research funding programme has had to be returned to the Exchequer due to lack of demand.
No money allocated to the Link research programme has had to be returned to the Exchequer. Once funding is committed to a Link project it will be made available as necessary.
The actual spend on Link projects lags significantly behind commitment. This is due to the time involved in industry and science based institutes concluding formal agreements to collaborate, together with the fact that industrial grants are paid in arrears. This situation is made worse by industry frequently taking up to 12 months after the work has taken place to submit claims.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what criticisms of the Link funding rules have been received by his Department.
Comments on Link, including its funding rules, have been made by the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, the Confederation of British Industry, the Engineering Council, and others. Their observations are currently being studied.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what changes are planned in the Link research funding rules.
None at present, although as with all such schemes, the rules are reviewed from time to time.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what proportion of the money allocated to the Link research funding research programme has been (a) spent and (b) committed, to date.
A total of 24 programmes have been approved under the Link scheme targeting priority areas of research. £160 million has been committed by government to finance the research in these programmes providing industry comes forward with a matching £160 million for individual projects. To date 65 individual collaborative research projects have been agreed and are under way with a total commitment from government and industry of £37 million. Due to the time taken to establish collaborative projects and the delay in industry submitting claims for work undertaken the spend for the financial year 1989–90 was only around £7 million but this is expected to increase significantly during the course of the current financial year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factors account for the low take-up of the money allocated to the Link research funding project.
Whilst 24 Link programmes have been announced, most of the 65 current research projects under way have only become active within the last 12 months. For example, on 6 April 1989 there were only 12 active research projects, whereas by 29 May 1990 the number has risen to 65. In addition, on 29 May 1990 a further 57 were through all stages of technical approval and were awaiting final financial clearance or the Department was waiting for the industrial partners to satisfactorily conclude crucial collaborative agreements. The time delay between the approval of research programmes targeting a particular area and the conclusion of collaborative agreements between individual science based institutes and industry to proceed on a particular project is reflected in the actual Link spend being significantly behind the commitment. This is exacerbated by the fact that industrial grants are paid in arrears, that is after costs have been incurred and particularly in the early days of a project, claims may not be submitted for up to 12 months after the work has taken place. As a result the actual spend to date has been low but is expected to increase significantly during the course of this financial year.
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what proportion of projects funded under the European framework programme there is a United Kingdom academic partner and no United Kingdom industrial partner; and what are the reasons for this.
A fundamental objective of EC research and development collaboration is to encourage greater interaction between academic and industrial research in order to increase European competitiveness in world markets.In general, United Kingdom industry has made considerable progress in participation in international collaboration and in winning funds from the EC research and development budget. With the greater emphasis in the 1990–94 framework programme on basic science, for example in biomedicine, health and the environment, United Kingdom universities and research establishments should be able to increase their already significant involvement in EC collaborative activities.The split between United Kingdom industrial and academic involvement varies according to the content of individual research programmes and disproportionate effort would be required to extract this information on the 32 specific programmes under the 1987–91 framework programme.
To ask the Secretary of State For Trade and Industry what information he has on the number of United Kingdom academics transferring their research ideas to the United Kingdom's competitors; and what factors account for this transfer.
My Department makes no provision for the collection of information on the number of United Kingdom academics transferring their research ideas to the United Kingdom's competitors.