Spin-off companies from universities and industry are expected to continue to increase in number over the coming years. In its Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014, 2008 Report
, the government sets out its commitment to supporting these companies, particularly those in the SME category.
Trends in research
- The UK Stem Cell Foundation (UKSCF)
has increased stem cell research collaborations with US institutions and in 2011 announced £300,000 of funding for a Scottish Stem Cell Research Fund. By 2014, the UKSCF is seeking to raise an additional £5million towards stem cell research projects.
- Up and coming areas include renewable energy, alternative fuels, eco-manufacturing using green technology, plastic, electronics, food and crops for the future. Other areas of development include neurosciences, tissue engineering, monoclonal antibodies, immunology, oncology and infectious disease research.
- Spending on climate change research will continue to increase and research and development (R&D) into alternative forms of fuel is a priority. It is forecast that there will be around 30,000 new jobs in the UK nuclear industry by 2025 (Department of Energy and Climate Change, 2011).
- The rapid evolution of drug discovery will create demands in areas such as cheminformatics and bioinformatics, automated synthesis and combinational chemistry, high-throughput screening, proteomics, neuroscience, molecular histology and chiral chemistry.
- There will be increased demand for scientists with genomics knowledge who want to apply it to the business side in marketing, product management or sales.
- The UK government has invested £42million into the Marine Renewables Deployment Fund, which will fund R&D into marine energy (UKTI, 2011).
There are more than 100 science parks across the UK, with over 3,100 companies (including approximately 300 overseas-owned companies) occupying over 1.6 million square metres of property. Employment in companies located on UK science parks has risen from 31,000 to 70,100 over the last ten years (UKSPA, 2011).
Scientists will need to be adaptable and multi-skilled, with the ability to work in a multidisciplinary environment with collaborators from different nations, backgrounds and functions. The ability to speak several languages is expected to become increasingly important and will, in many cases, improve employment prospects.
Financial incentives and benefits to companies locating their premises in countries with lower labour costs and increased tax breaks are concerns for the UK science sector.
- Government legislation and funding policy will continue to play a major role in shaping the direction of the science industry.
- The Office for Life Sciences (OLS)
has been created by the government to build, sustain and coordinate the UK's life science industry.
- The UK government's investment in scientific R&D was around £4.6billion for 2011 and the Department of Health will provide £220million of capital over the next four years (BIS, 2010).