He then expressed a need for greater research and investment in skills development, even looking at early-stage education pathways to encourage more young people into STEM careers. Professor Freer would also like to see greater risk-sharing between the investor and public sectors to boost confidence and encourage experimentation.
Dr Marshall, who spoke about the NCUB’s belief in the importance of investment zones and partnerships with universities outside the ‘Golden Triangle’, also said there are contrasts between the UK and America when it comes to investment in deep tech SMEs.
He pointed to the fact that it is often entrepreneurs who invest in these types of businesses in the US, as opposed to slightly more impatient financiers in Britain, and observed there is more fluidity between industry and academia across the Pacific.
Echoing the views of the earlier speakers, Dr Marshall also stressed that there needs to be better access to finance, talent and infrastructure if Britain is to capitalise on its wealth of scientific opportunity.
The event concluded with an interesting Q&A session, with Tanya stressing that science often has the answers to global problems and said a longer-term perspective is needed when it comes to devising an industry strategy – a sentiment backed by Dr Reip and Professor Freer. Dr Marshall added that the 2017 commitment by Theresa May’s government to invest 2.4% of GDP into scientific R&D has not been followed up on by subsequent administrations.
This discussion was just one RSC-sponsored event that connects policymakers with science leaders. It follows on from March’s STEM for Britain event at Westminster and precedes next month's RSC-organised event in Wales, Science and the Senedd.