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UK engineering research is `in excellent shape`

19 May, 2009

The quality of engineering research and development in the UK’s higher education (HE) establishments is “in excellent shape” according to a survey conducted for the Engineering and Technology Board, which concludes that 58–71% of r&d in UK universities is either “world leading’ or “internationally excellent”. However, the report adds that it is “most unlikely” in the current economic climate that that the UK will achieve anywhere near its targeted r&d spend of 2.5% of GDP by 2010.

According to the study, based on an assessment of more than 200,000 pieces of research work, 59% of r&d in electrical and electronic engineering and 52% in mechanical, manufacturing and aeronautic engineering, falls into the two highest categories. The assessment was introduced to help the four HE funding bodies distribute their £1.57bn research allocation on the basis of research quality.

The report proposes strengthening and developing engineering research by:
♦  increasing research credits for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and “micro-businesses”, to ensure that they keep innovating;
♦  encouraging large, successful businesses to mentor smaller businesses and to provide them with knowledge of customer markets and venture-capital; and
♦  providing financial support to help to help SMEs to overcome the high costs of intellectual property rights protection.
“University engineering departments are doing an excellent job laying the foundations for the future economic recovery,” says ETB chief executive, Paul Jackson. “Engineering research, and the cutting-edge products and services it produces, are crucial to ensuring the UK keeps pace with the rest of the world. We must plan and invest now in order to ensure the UK continues to excel in innovation.”

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