Yvette Cooper backs increased science spend with 3 per cent GDP target

Labour leadership candidate calls for 'revolution in science' and increased research and development spend

July 3, 2015

Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper will call for the UK to commit to almost doubling its science and R&D spend to 3 per cent of GDP.

On a day when she will visit the University of Manchester’s National Graphene Institute, Ms Cooper was set to call for a long-term framework for science funding as part of a plan to create more high-wage, high-skill jobs.

Ms Cooper will also take part in a Labour leadership hustings in Manchester alongside rivals Andy Burnham, Liz Kendall and Jeremy Corbyn.

Her speech was billed as advocating “a revolution in science and research” by her campaign, which also said she was calling for “a revolution in vocational skills, including supporting more University Technical Colleges, and continuing to innovate in apprenticeships and higher education”.

The agenda echoes that of Liam Byrne, Labour’s shadow universities science and skills minister, who is among Ms Cooper’s supporters in the leadership race.

Ms Cooper is expected to say: “We should be at the heart of a revolution in research and science investment. That’s why I will set a target of 3 per cent GDP for science and R&D investment. Just imagine what that would mean for our universities, our cities, our companies. That would transform our economy.”

The 3 per cent GDP target would bring the UK into line with Germany, her campaign said.

The UK spent 1.6 per cent of GDP on R&D in 2013, well behind Germany on 2.9 per cent, according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Ms Cooper adds: “When Manchester invented the new technologies of the industrial revolution, we turned them into jobs. Now we aren’t. China and the United States have done far more to turn Manchester’s great graphene invention into patents than we have here at home.”

And she continues: “If we were investing 3 per cent of our GDP in science that would give us the chance of 2 million more skilled manufacturing jobs for our country.

“Britain can’t compete with Brazil or Indonesia on low-wage, low skill jobs. But with high-skilled jobs in emergent technologies, in the digital revolution, in the shift to a post-carbon economy, in the harnessing of new technologies such as graphene, we can do what we’ve done before: punch well above our weight as a small island off the coast of Europe.”

Mr Byrne has previously argued that “universities help us…build a different type of economy, where there’s a bigger supply of better paid jobs in high-growth, high value-added sectors”.

john.morgan@tesglobal.com

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