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Science can improve lives, underpin livelihoods and jobs, and drive economic growth. Securing a positive future for UK research and innovation is a key goal.


Our current world-leading science base rests on the foundation of historic continuous investment. Here we set out a selection of our activities aimed at showing why continued support for UK science has never been more crucial.


NEWS (28 April 2017)

Ahead of the General Election on 8 June 2017, we sent a letter to all Members of Parliament who are planning to stand for re-election, highlighting the importance of science.

NEWS (18 October 2016)

We have put together a briefing ahead of the Autumn Statement, which will detail the Government's plans for the UK economy and public finance, based on forecasts from the Office of Budget Responsibility; it will accompany the Government's Budget Statement on Wednesday 23rd November 2016.

NEWS (10 August 2016)

We have put together a briefing collating ministerial appointments and their responsibilities across the Government departments. For more information please see the Office for Life Sciences and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy websites.

NEWS (19 April 2016)

We have put together a briefing highlighting the references to science in the HM Treasury analysis: the long term economic impact of EU membership and the alternatives, published by HM Government on 18th April 2016.

Science drives investment and growth

  • For every £1 spent by the Government on research and development (R&D), private sector R&D output rises by 20p per year in perpetuity, by raising the level of the UK knowledge base (CaSE, 2014).
  • UK research is cited in 10.9% of all patent applications worldwide (Elsevier for BIS, 2013).
  • If Government made a one-off increase in public spending on R&D of £450m (5% of its £9bn total R&D spend), market sector output would rise by £90m per year, every year (Haskel et al. 2014).

The value of life science


Life science improves lives:

  • One eighth of the world’s most popular prescription medicines were developed in the UK (ABPI, 2014).
  • Investing in urban green spaces has the potential to provide benefit in physical and mental health costs of £2.1 billion alone, regardless of other benefits. (Natural capital Committee (2014): Investing in Natural Capital)

Life science creates jobs:

Life science drives investment and growth:

What have we achieved?

The UK punches above its weight in research outputs, achieving 15.9% of the world’s most highly cited articles with just 0.9% of the global population, and we rank 2nd in the world for the quality of our scientific research institutions (Royal Society, 2015).

In 2011, the UK attracted almost $7bn of overseas-financed R&D. This is the same as Canada, Finland, Japan, China, and Russia combined, more than either France or Germany ($4bn each) and just under half that of the USA (BIS Innovation Report, 2014).

Now UK R&D investment is slipping behind our competitors:

  • The UK's Gross Expenditure on R&D was 1.7% of GDP in 2012, below the EU 28 and OECD averages (BIS Growth Dashboard, 2015).
  • France, which has a similar sized economy to the UK, outstrips our research investment by nearly 40% (CBI, 2014).
  • Emerging nations of the East: most notably China, are putting pressure on the UK in terms of sheer volume of research inputs and outputs (Elsevier for BIS, 2013).

The UK's world leading successes are based on a history of sustained investment. A ‘flat cash’ settlement at the last funding round (2010) resulted in an effective loss of £1bn of research funding due to inflation.


Science education

To ensure that we continue to produce exceptional scientists we must support education focusing on:

Teaching workforce

It is important to raise the professional status of teachers at all levels. All teachers must have or be working towards a teaching qualification, and be committed to engaging with professional development opportunities throughout their careers, including subject specific CPD to ensure subject knowledge is up to date.

Practical science

Practical work and the development of practical skills is highly valuable and must be an integral part of all biology taught in schools and colleges, and bioscience courses at universities, funds must be available to ensure all students are able to take part in investigative work.

Curriculum development

A period of stability is needed to allow teachers and students to adapt to the changes that have occurred across the curriculum during the reform, and evidence should be gathered on the impacts the reform has made.

Careers education

To ensure there is an appropriately qualified STEM workforce, there needs to be excellent and consistent careers provision from primary through to tertiary education including vocational and academic pathways.


Maintain high standards by having suitable accountability measures for schools colleges and universities to ensure best and innovative practice. Encouraging the continued accreditation of degrees to ensure high quality experiences for students.

Download our full education priorities.

Tell your MP

To secure our future, well-funded and supported science is essential. Our Parliament must take up the challenge to continue and increase support for science. Use your postcode to Find your MP.


The Society works with a range of partners to examine and promote continued investment in UK science.

Science and the General Election debate

The Society of Biology hosted a pre-election debate on 11th March 2015 on behalf of the science and engineering community.

Science and the General Election brought together representatives from Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, SNP, Plaid Cymru and UKIP, and was chaired by the BBC science correspondent Pallab Ghosh. Party representatives debated the role and provision for science in the next election, and answered questions from the community on immigration policy (35:24), tuition fees (1:12:11) and funding for research (15:46). A full report on the Society’s parliamentary hustings and an exclusive interview with Science Minister Greg Clark is in the The Biologist.

Environmental policy debate

Chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby, People, Politics and the Planet - Any Questions?, was a pre-election debate on the environmental policies of the UK’s major political parties. The event was organised by the British Ecological Society, The Sibthorp Trust and the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM).

Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE)

CaSE have created 2015 General Election, a page outlining the ten actions they propose the next Government take to champion science and engineering, we support this call for action.

You can also read their three election briefings which detail feasible and practical actions that could be taken in the next term of Parliament to achieve the ambitions our major political parties have set.

UK National Academies

In their publication Building a stronger future, UK National Academies have set out key priorities and actions for the next Government to make the UK the location of choice for world class research, development and innovation.


For more information, and to tell us about your experiences, contact the policy team at


Last updated 18/10/2016