In an age of breakneck scientific and technological advance, it’s fair to say that we’re currently living through a second industrial revolution. In the 25 years since the internet first began to develop mainstream traction, technology businesses, reliant on innovation and R&D, have become the most highly valued companies in the world.
However, these businesses have overwhelmingly been based on software, creating new platforms or disrupting existing markets by overlaying information technology on them. Today, though, technology firms are approaching new challenges, from self driving cars and a commercial space race to high speed transport and robotic-human augmentation. Beyond that, scientific fields ranging from medicine to physics are now also seeing advances at an accelerating rate. Indeed, scientific innovation is more accessible today than ever before, allowing private enterprises large and small to test, research and innovate in ways that would have previously been impossible.
With world-leading labs and innovation bodies, Britain manages to hit significantly above its weight in this field. Indeed, between 2004 and 2012, Britain ranked in the top three for the number of scientific research papers published and scientific citations received, competing only with the US and China. What’s more, the current business environment is perhaps better suited to scientific discovery than ever before.
There is a network of angels and venture capital firms that are open to exploring new ideas and who are prepared to take calculated risks to fund innovative and disruptive technology. Meanwhile, advances in computing power mean than data crunching is faster and cheaper than ever, allowing advances in fields such as genetic analysis that would previously have been unthinkable. Britain is particularly well placed to prosper from the dropping of technical barriers, being home to some of the most respected academic institutions in the world and attracting talent from both Europe and Asia (with many highly-skilled workers already speaking English as a second language). Furthermore, the government has consistently recognised the importance of nurturing scientific development, with its proven benefits for the overall economy, and the R&D tax credits scheme has done a great deal to encourage investment in research, particularly among SMEs.
Based on this combination of factors, recent years have seen significant increases in the number of UK workers employed in science and high tech industries. The mid 2010s saw double digital percentage increase in the number of scientific, technical and professional businesses in the UK, while the northwest saw some of the strongest growth in the region. The last government made it a point of policy to drive scientific advance and pursued a range of policies to achieve these goals, as well as working to encourage businesses and academic institutions to collaborate.
Britain is well positioned for resilience with access to finance, expertise and academic excellence. The UK presents unparalleled opportunities to business for innovation development and commercialisation – and there’s little doubt that this will drive future growth. The Science & Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory, located at Sci-Tech Daresbury and close to both Manchester and Liverpool, is recognised for its world-leading research and is home to scientists and engineers from across private industry and the university research community. Areas of study include accelerator science, bio-medicine, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering and computational science, while facilities range from a particle accelerator to a VR/AR lab.
The Science & Technology Facilities Council’s Daresbury Laboratory, located at Sci-Tech Daresbury and close to both Manchester and Liverpool, is recognised for its world-leading research and is home to scientists and engineers from across private industry and the university research community. Areas of study include accelerator science, bio-medicine, physics, chemistry, materials, engineering and computational science, while facilities range from a particle accelerator to a VR/AR lab.