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Research Base

Volume 281: debated on Wednesday 17 July 1996

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To ask the President of the Board of Trade what representations he has received from industrialists regarding the United Kingdom's science and technology research base. [36553]

I have received a wide range of representations from industry and industrialists regarding the United Kingdom's science and technology research base. Some eminent industrialists sit on the Council for Science and Technology and the research councils' bodies for informing themselves of the needs of their user communities. Thousands of industrialists are involved in the technology foresight programme, the findings of which continue to inform decisions on the science and technology base.

To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment he has made of the contribution made by universities to the science and engineering base for the United Kingdom's industrial competitiveness. [36552]

As set out in the White Paper "Competitiveness; Creating the enterprise centre of Europe", the United Kingdom universities play a vital part in enabling British industry to develop and exploit new science, engineering and technology and in the creation of a well education and highly skilled work force. Without the excellence of our science and engineering base and our graduate work force, the United Kingdom could not sustain the innovation and general business performance needed to ensure our competitiveness.The Scottish Office, as part of its "Commercialisation Enquiry" with the Royal Society of Edinburgh, undertook a number of studies which highlight the importance of commercialisation of research to the Scottish economy, and the direct and indirect benefits of research in Scottish universities. Producing indicators which reflect and impact upon publicly funded research in new ideas and understanding is not a trivial task and is one issue I addressed in my speech to the Royal Institution on March 21.