We Must Have a Technology Council
Byline: By John Duckers Business Editor
The Government should establish a Technology Council to aid British industry, Lord Bhattacharyya urged yesterday.
Speaking in the Lords, he said one of the UK's greatest assets was its science base.
And research in healthcare and medicine was "the jewel in that crown". But technology was key to a better and more efficient health service.
Lord Bhattacharyya, director of Warwick Manufacturing Group, said: "The UK today has tremendous strength in research and development across the whole health sector.
"We all benefit from health research and there is tremendous value to the economy from investment in health R&D.
"Our pharmaceutical industry alone generates a trade surplus of pounds 3.75 billion each year."
Saying he welcomed the Chancellor's Budget announcement combining the R&D spend managed by the Medical Research Council and those of the Department of Health, he noted that this had created a dedicated ring-fenced annual fund of over pounds 1 billion for health R&D.
He went on: "I firmly believe that funding should continue to be awarded on the basis of excellence across the whole spectrum of health research, from basic to clinical and to public health. Covering the whole range of science, engineering and technology. All of which is employed in supporting the nation's healthcare."
But the crucial role of technology and innovation had not been fully appreciated.
Lord Bhattacharyya said: "Only now are we fully recognising the importance of innovation.
"We spend some pounds 3 billion a year on university research and only pounds 100 million on encouraging the exploitation of that research in the form of innovation and knowledge transfer.
"Is it not time to establish a Technology Council to join the ranks of the research councils and be specifically charged with fostering university industry links? I have been arguing the case for a Technology Council for over a decade - now is the time for it to be born.
"We must step up our innovation effort with an institutional voice charged with making it happen.
"As well as first class research our universities also generate first class manpower. …