Funding for research and development should be seen by the government as an investment not a cost, he said.
During the speech earlier today he added that research councils should be doing more to tackle the concentration of research funding in the South East.
It was thought earlier this week that Mr Cable may launch the government’s new Science and Innovation Strategy at the event. But his speech, titled Science and Innovation: the Next Five Years and Beyond, did not launch the document.
Instead Mr Cable reflected on his time in government and told the science and engineering community that it should be making the case to government for a boost in spending in the next Parliament.
He said a “step change” in investment was needed because the UK was falling behind other countries.
Mr Cable added that UK research spending as a proportion of GDP should be more matched to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average, which was 2.4 per cent in 2011. The UK government’s spending in the same year was 1.7 per cent of GDP.
Earlier this month, the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills committee called on the government to boost its investment to 3 per cent of GDP or risk falling behind other countries that spend considerably more.
The US, for example, spends 2.8 per cent of GDP on research and development each year, Germany 2.8 per cent and France 2.3 per cent, according to the committee’s report Business-University Collaboration.