“I welcome the Government’s commitment to spend 2.4% of GDP on crucial research and development through which chemistry will play its part in improving human health and safeguarding the environment. It is vital that this is invested effectively in a balance of research, including ground-breaking fundamental or ‘discovery’ research as well as applied and challenge-driven research.
“Whilst challenge-driven research funding, such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, is needed for specific problems and commercialising ideas, fundamental research is what brings about new knowledge and transformative discoveries that drive growth. Liquid crystals are ubiquitous in TVs globally – once they were just a chemical curiosity. Similarly, research into molecular machines that began in the nineties won a Nobel Prize in 2016 and is now opening the door to new materials, drug delivery systems, sensors and energy storage systems.
Keeping scientific talent and collaboration
“As the UK leaves the EU, it is vital that the right arrangements are in place for scientific collaboration and cooperation, including mobility for scientists. While the chancellor has announced £150m for fellowships to attract the brightest talent to the UK, to maintain the UK’s leading position in the chemical sciences, we need to see continued participation in the EU Science and Innovation Framework Programmes; easy movement of scientists between the EEA and the UK and continued close collaboration with the European Chemicals Agency.
“A one-off, one-year grant for schools to pay for “little extras” does not address long-term problems in recruiting and retaining teachers. We believe that the best way to solve this problem is to make a sustained investment in schools. Government must improve working conditions for teachers by addressing unsustainable workloads, improving access to subject-specific professional development and providing better opportunities for flexible working. Valuing and retaining the current teaching workforce is the best investment in the future of young people and our country.”