Ignore high-tech and miss out, warns MP

Ignore high-tech and miss out, warns MP
MP Claire Curtis-Thomas warns government that ?430m must be invested in high-tech research or UK will miss out on future money spinning technologies. Political Correspondent. The government has been told that it must boost investment in high-tech research undertaken by universities and companies. The warning, from engineer MP Claire Curtis-Thomas, came after an all-party Commons Committee called for an additional government investment of ?430m. Otherwise, the UK is set to miss out on money-spinning technological breakthroughs. The Science and Technology Committee, of which the Crosby Labour MP is a member, said that the government had to make up the ?430m shortfall in research investment over the next three years. But it goes on to say that: “There is an overwhelming case for a substantial real terms increase in government expenditure on research over and above that which is required to make good the shortfall as an investment in the nation’s future”. And that figure must be at least as much again as the ?430m, said Curtis-Thomas. She said the committee was very concerned that without the extra funding, research finance would be put into safe research with immediate commercial benefits in product development. Blue Skies research and, most of all, “what if” research would suffer. And the sort of work undertaken by universities and small firms in the electronic field would be most vulnerable, she said. “There would be no chance of repeating the British invention of the silicon chip which was classic “what if” research. There would be no repeat of the James Dyson vacuum cleaner when the scientist knew that cyclones separated dust and decided to see if the same technique would work in a vacuum cleaner. Now half the vacuum cleaners manufactured use this cyclonic technology. “Without an increase in government funding for this type of research, there will be no chance of the sort of breakthroughs that produce products worth millions of pounds and hundreds of jobs every 20 or 30 years that pure research can bring,” she said.


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