Scots launch science plan

August 31, 2001

The Scottish Executive launched its first integrated Science Strategy this week.

The five-point plan aims to maintain a strong science base, increase the exploitation of research, ensure that enough people study science, promote the understanding of science and ensure effective use of scientific evidence in government policy.

A chief scientific adviser will be appointed who will also head a new Scottish science advisory committee, the membership of which will be selected by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Speaking at the launch, Wendy Alexander, minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, said: "Government must become smarter in the support it gives to science, the use it makes of science and the way it explains the issues.

" A Science Strategy for Scotland marks the start of a more joined-up approach to policy and investment decisions from the laboratory to business.

"The involvement of the RSE ensures that this new committee will be a confident and independent voice - and offers a form of partnership between government and the scientific community that I believe is unprecedented (in Scotland)."

Sir William Stewart, president of the RSE, welcomed the strategy. He said:

"Scotland has a strong science base but we must not be complacent.

"Clearly we cannot do everything, and we need to focus particularly on areas that will give this country competitive edge in the harsh global arena of the 21st century."

He added that the advisory committee would not just be made up of scientists but would include social scientists, economists and business people.

No new money is attached to the strategy, but Ms Alexander said the Scottish Executive is expected to increase spending on science, science-related activities and teaching by 15 per cent to £1 billion over its current term of 1999-2003. This is expected to be supplemented over the term by about £700 million from Westminster, in research council and infrastructure funds.

The 50-page strategy follows the establishment of a review group of leading scientists two years ago and the publication of its report in April 2000.

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