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Meeting with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Universities & Science Minister

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On 6 June 2013, the Presidents of the four national academies and a number of other leading figures with experience of the development and application of scientific work met at 11 Downing Street with George Osborne (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and David Willetts (Minister of State for Universities and Science). The meeting focussed on issues relating not just to the current government spending review (covering the year 2015-16) but also to the long-term framework of UK funding for research. On 22 April the four national academies had issued the joint statement, 'Fuelling Prosperity: Research and Innovation as Drivers of UK Growth and Competitiveness', which formed part of the background to the meeting.

The Chancellor was keen to hear expert views on how to safeguard the long-term importance of science to the UK, in particular as regards UK competitiveness, funding priorities, growth/business links and how to ensure that the UK trains the next generation of world-leading scientists. The academics present particularly emphasised the value of public commitment to a secure funding framework if long-term research projects are to go ahead successfully and overseas talent is to be attracted to the UK. The multiplicity of subjects covered in UK universities, and the multiplicity of sources of funding for research projects (including the research councils, national academies, foundations and business), were seen as strengths of the UK.   

Attendees included:

  • George Osborne MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science
  • Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society
  • Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy
  • Sir John Parker, President, Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Professor Sir John Tooke, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences
  • Dame Nancy Rothwell, President and Vice-Chancellor of Manchester University and Co-Chair of Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology
  • Sir Andrew Witty, Chief Executive Officer, Glaxosmithkline
  • Dr Herman Hauser CBE, Entrepreneur and Co-Founder, Amadeus Capital Partners
  • Sir John O’Reilly, Director General, Knowledge and Innovation, Dept. for Business, Innovation and Skills
  • Professor Colin Blakemore, Professor of Neuroscience, Oxford University 

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