Brussels, 17 Nov 2004
The UK can become the world capital of science, the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has said. Speaking at the launch of a five-year plan for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in London on 17 November, Mr Blair declared that science skills and technology will be the key to the UK's industrial's future.
'Our ambition is for the UK to become the science capital of the world. We are well on the way. Our science is already world class but I believe we can be the best,' said Mr Blair. 'Stem cell research is just one example of a new area of science which has tremendous potential to improve quality of life and where the UK can lead the world,' he added.
While the UK represents one per cent of the world's population, it produces five per cent of the world's science, generates nine per cent of all papers and is responsible for 12 per cent of all citations.
Acknowledging the controversy around stem cell research, Mr Blair maintained that this type of research 'has the potential to revolutionise medical advance'.
'We will not stop this research,' Mr Blair said, stressing the potential benefits for patients with Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, spinal cord injuries, as well as other diseases.
'I do not think it is right to deny people suffering from these illnesses the hope of a cure, said Mr Blair. 'The potential benefits are huge. But we are not allowing it simply to proceed unregulated. We should have the confidence to recognise that science can be a force for good and to grasp the opportunities that it presents to us,' he added.
Explaining that the UK aims to be the world leader in stem cell research and biotechnology, Mr Blair concluding by stating that 'the DTI plan will help ensure that the UK continues to create a climate where this sort of research can flourish.'
The programme will include the following initiatives:
- action to tackle animal rights extremism, with new proposals to address the economic damage to research activities;
- establishment of the 'Newton Awards' - a new multi-million pound fund for high-profile cross-disciplinary research with potential for breakthroughs in areas likely to help UK public policy and business priorities;
- establishment of a new ideas portal;
- boosting research spending from the current 1.9 per cent of GDP to 2.5 per cent by 2014.
To read the DTI five year programme, please consult the following web address: