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This week the Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP, met with the President and the chief executive of the Royal Society of Biology, Professor Dame Jean Thomas Hon FRSB and Dr Mark Downs CSci FRSB.

At the meeting, which also included leading representatives from the Institute of Physics, Council for Mathematics, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Society of Chemistry, Mr Johnson was very supportive of collaboration across the scientific disciplines and the value of unified engagement with Government.

The Minister made clear his view that it is a challenging funding environment and there has been speculation that the innovation grant system may switch to a loans based one.

Dr Downs said: “The science budget has been steadily eroded by inflation since being frozen in cash terms in 2010. Although baseline funding is critically important, this comes at a time when the UK’s scientific reputation is at stake, with its level of investment being overtaken by countries who recognise the importance of greater levels of investment in funding research and development as a percentage of GDP.”

UK investment in publicly funded research fell to less than 0.5% of GDP in 2012 which puts our investment at the bottom of the G8 countries, and total research spend stands around 1.7%. German science spend increased by 70% between 2000 - 2013 and is now approaching 3% of GDP.

The Minister was supportive of the dual support system for universities but made clear that the mechanism of delivery may change.

Following this fruitful meeting the RSB plans to meet with Mr Johnson again shortly after the CSR announcement, by which time the publication of the Nurse review is also expected.

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