Chemistry worth 250bn to UK per year, says report

28 September 2010

One in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent on developments in chemistry research, according to a new report commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Industries reliant on chemistry contributed an astonishing 258 billion to the UK economy in 2007 - equivalent to 21% of UK GDP and supported six million jobs, accounting for at least 15% of the UK's exported goods and attracting significant inward investment.
The findings demonstrate the high calibre, financial worth and excellent value for money of the UK's chemistry research base.

The report looks at 'upstream' and 'downstream' industries - those that produce or depend to varying degrees on chemicals. Using economic data and case studies it provides a dramatic illustration of the true value of chemistry research to the country.
The report, by leading economic forecasting consultancy Oxford Economics, evaluated the contribution of chemistry research to many different industries and found that fifteen key sectors, including health, electronics, textiles and aerospace, are wholly or partly reliant on the chemical sciences.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said:

"The Government recognises the key role that research, technology and innovation will play in rebalancing the economy. 

As well as the significant contribution they continue to make in promoting the country's economic growth, the chemical sciences offer great potential for helping us tackle the most urgent challenges the planet faces today such as developing sustainable energy sources and advancing new medical treatments." 

Professor David Delpy, chief executive, EPSRC, said:

"The products of chemistry and other areas of science and engineering research are present in nearly every facet of the UK economy and these figures not only remind us of  the remarkable return on our investment in chemistry research, but also of  the imperative to continue developing world leaders in the field."

Dr Richard Pike, chief executive, Royal Society of Chemistry, said:

"Those drawn to the chemical sciences find the subject exciting because it provides profound insights into the world around us and offers extraordinarily creative opportunities. But this report also demonstrates the extent to which developments that are led or underpinned by the chemical sciences contribute to the economic well-being of the UK. It sends a clear message that it is essential for us to invest, and invest significantly, in the continued development of the skills pipeline, from schools to university and beyond."

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