5,000 Science Jobs to be created in Norwich

iStock_000006963239Medium[1]As reported by the BBC, 5,000 science jobs will be created in a plan to open new laboratories and offices at the Norwich Research Park (NRP).

Norwich Research Park is Europe’s leading centre for research in food, health and environmental sciences.  The £5m Innovation Centre has 30 units for science-related businesses. Currently, the park comprises the Sainsbury Laboratory, the Genome Analysis Centre and the University of East Anglia, as well as a number of science and innovation businesses. At present, there is almost 3,000 scientists based at the park/

NRP Innovation Centre Project Co-odinator, John Irving stated, “The NRP Innovation Centre provides a first-class working environment and we are looking to attract tenants from all areas of science throughout the UK, Europe and further afield.

“This investment underlines the economic value of research to the Norfolk and east of England economy.”

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Increase Investment in Science to Boost Economy

scienceAccording to a report by The Royal Society, if the UK does not invest heavily in science and scientific research, it will face decades of sluggish economic decline.

The report warned that Britain’s current advantage is in danger of being wiped out by the US, China, India, France and Germany who have increased spending in science to help boost their economies. For instance, the German government has said it will increase their budget for education and research by 12bn Euros by 2013.

Sir Martin Taylor, chair of the report’s advisory group stated: “As France announces a new €35bn investment in the knowledge economy, the UK cuts university budgets by £600m, with the threat of more to come.

“The UK has been in the top two of the scientific premier league for the last 350 years. It would seem obvious that politicians would recognise the need to invest in this competitive advantage rather than cutting funds.”

Lord Waldegrave, former Science Minister and provost of Eton College said: “Times are tough but this is exactly when you need to invest in the future and focus spending where you already have an advantage.

“Investment in science cannot be turned on and off on a political whim – we must have a long-term investment. If we cut science now, just as the benefits of nearly twenty years of consistent policy are really beginning to bear fruit, we will seriously damage our economic prospects.”

The report praises the fact that patents granted to UK universities have increase by 136% between 2000 and 2008, and that university spin outs employed 14,000 people in 2007/2008 with a turnover of £1.1bn. However, it seems that research and development is a weakness for the UK – in 2007 British companies spent 1.14% of GDP on R&D while in the US spent 1.9% and Germany 1.8%.

Experts in the field recommend the following to help remedy the situation:

  • Creating a 15 year framework for science and innovation with increased spending.
  • Prioritising investment in scientific skills and infrastructure, such as laboratories and equipment.
  • Better aligning science and innovation with global challenges.
  • Revitalising science and mathematics education.
  • And expanding the R&D tax credit.

Lord Sainsbury, the former science minister and member of the advisory group said: “We cannot compete with countries such as China and India on the basis of low wages, and science and innovation must, therefore, be the basis of the strategy for growth which we need to have as we go into a tough period of fiscal consolidation.”

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GSK Offers to Share Scientific Data to Wipe Out Tropical Diseases

Mosquito

In recent years, pharmaceutical companies have come under increasing pressure to change their approach to providing cheap drugs to people in the developing world. Many have faced fierce criticism for their failure to drop prices for HIV drugs while millions died in Africa and Asia, for defending patents. However, it seems the Chief Executive of GSK, Andrew Witty has a plan to fix this problem.

As reported in the Daily Telegraph, GSK is planning to share scientific data and laboratories in a bid to wipe out tropical diseases, such as malaria.  Andrew Witty, the Chief Executive of GSK who recently spent time in some of the world’s poorest continents, including Africa, said the global pharmaceutical company has a “genuine appetite to change the landscape of healthcare for the world’s poorest people”. In fact, it is estimated that Africa carries 70% of the world’s healthcare burden, but only receives 3% of healthcare resources.

In 2009, GSK announced it would create a patent pool for some of its existing products and not-for-profit-pricing on a variety of drugs for the developing world. In addition, the pharmaceutical giant plans to release 13,500 of its compounds that are believed to have the potential to be developed into new malaria treatments.

GSK will also operate an ‘Open Lab’ scheme whereby the company will open one of its laboratories in Tres Santocs, Spain, for non-GSK scientists to use to investigate treatments for other tropical diseases. The lab will accommodate 60 scientists who will benefit from £4.9m of funding from GSK to help with their research.  Speaking of this innovative ‘Open Lab’ scheme, Witty stated, Speaking before leaving for New York, Mr. Witty said: “Malaria is a dreadful disease which stalks the fields and villages of many parts of the least developed world. It has been an intractable problem for decades. Enormous progress has been made through bed net programmes, for example, but a really effective treatment has been somewhat elusive. We need to enlist the help of scientists around the world and to make it as easy as possible for that brilliant scientist, wherever they are, to find that initial spark that could be the breakthrough.”

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