Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Rest on the Road to Success

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

No Rest on the Road to Success

Article excerpt

Byline: By Sir Ian Gibson

The North East's five Centres of Excellence are setting the pace among UK regions, but this is just the beginning of a major challenge, writes Sir Ian Gibson, chairman of the Science and Industry Council of the North of England

IN THE late Sixties, as a student at the University of Manchester, I was lucky enough to work on a state-of-the-art computer, a contraption so large it filled several buildings.

We knew this was the future, but quite what future was far from clear. The pioneers foresaw a move from valves to transistors, but not to strips of silicon; today, we talk about biological memory and bubbles.

Back then, few would, or could, have predicted that within a generation personal computers would be in most homes and offices, and that microchips would run our cars or control our washing machines and household appliances.

Today, like then, like at the end of the Second World War when we first began to exploit nuclear fission and fusion, we are on the threshold of vast new areas of knowledge. And we simply don't know where nanotechnology, new and renewable energy, process engineering, digital media and life sciences will lead.

But it is clear another industrial revolution is beginning, and history shows it is those who are in at the beginning who are positioned to reap the benefits. A large part of the future not just of the North East but the whole world lies in properly exploiting these new areas.

Whether in cells, in nanotechnology or new and renewables, research is bringing new knowledge that will benefit industry and society over the next generation.

In the North-East we have identified five areas where we have enough research and knowledge to believe we can become world class. Through our Centres of Excellence we can play our part in the next wave of industrial opportunities that will come and go on to claim the social and wealth generation benefits.

We are off to a good start, and certainly in European terms we are taking a lead. …

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