A NEW five-year development programme by the United Kingdom government aims to make the UK the most attractive place in the world for scientific research.
The Creating Wealth From Knowledge programme drawn up by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) makes it clear that science, innovation and technology will be the key to the UK's future industrial success.
DTI Secretary of State explained: "The global economic map is being redrawn. China is becoming one of the world's largest economies; India is producing three million highly skilled graduates a year; and Central and Eastern European countries - with wages a fraction of ours - are joining the European Union (EU).
"But Britain is extremely well placed to benefit from this transformation. Building on our strong economic foundations, we propose a new industrial policy built around the knowledge-based economy, high in skills, embracing innovation, science and technology.
And today we are sending a strong signal to scientists around the world that the UK is the place to come to carry out research in leading-edge areas such as nanotechnology and stem cell research."
The programme puts forward a range of policies to help UK business succeed in the global economy. These include strengthening science and boosting innovation, a new multi-million pounds fund for high-profile cross-disciplinary research with potential for breakthroughs in areas likely to help UK public policy and business priorities.
It is also planned to boost research and development spending from 1.9 per cent of national income to 2.5 per cent by 2014, and to help an extra 20,000 firms in the next five years by building on the success of the Manufacturing Advisory Service.
Enterprise will be promoted with more support for small and women-owned businesses, and the establishment of a new award for entrepreneurs together with a new Women's Enterprise Panel.
The government also plans to boost skills by working with employers and unions to raise the proportion of UK young people under 30 achieving skill level 3. There will be new plans to attract global entrepreneurial talent and academic expertise to the UK.
The DTI has also announced a new partnership with industry to improve innovation and competitiveness in the 200 billion pounds UK materials industry that is a vital part of the supply chain for major sectors such as the aerospace, automotive and construction industries.
A new Materials Innovation & Growth team will include representatives from industry, the regions and government, and be led by Mr Wyn Jones, chairman of British Alcan Aluminium. Similar teams have already been established for the automotive, chemicals, environmental equipment and software industries.
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