Scotland’s spending plans for science

Posted on November 18, 2010 by

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The Scottish government announced their draft budget for 2011-12 yesterday. They said very nice things about the value of medical research to Scotland and the good news is that the Scottish Funding Council’s research budget will be protected in cash terms and the healthcare research budget – which includes the Chief Scientist Office and NHS research funding – is being maintained.

Background

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for finance & sustainable growth announced the Scottish government’s draft budget to the Scottish Parliament yesterday. The actual documents are available here.

What does it say?

Similar to the spending review announced in Westminster on 20 October, this draft budget singles out medical research and the life sciences sector as a potential growth area that should be supported. It also emphasises the importance of investing in skills although there are cuts to universities and higher education institutions.

Page 28 has a nice mention recognising the value of medical research

 The healthcare sector also contributes to economic growth through its significant investment in world-leading healthcare related research and development in medical and life sciences technology.

And page 131 has a nice summary of the successes of Scottish science

We have created a £10 million national life sciences institute in Dundee and supported all universities in Scotland to undertake world-leading research. Partly as a result of this increased support,15 per cent of our researchers were described as world-leading in the 2008 Research AssessmentExercise. With 0.1 per cent of the world population, the impact of Scottish research represents a1.8 per cent global share as measured by citations.

The Scottish Funding Council’s research budget will stay the same in cash terms (page 38):

In addition, and mirroring the position in England, the Scottish Funding Council’s (SFC) research budget will also be protected in cash terms.

and on page 30, there is mention of the need to streamline regulation to make Scotland a more attractive place to conduct clinical trials etc. (for more facts, figures and info on the current situation for clinical trials in Scotland, check out the third briefing on this page “ensure the discoveries we fund reach the people who need them”)

  Building on the protection of the SFC research budget, this Budget maximises the contribution of Scotland’s world-class science and research base to economic growth in Scotland.

  • NHS Research Scotland (NRS) has been established. This initiative, developed to streamline the process of obtaining Research and Development approval for multi-centre research studies in Scotland, is part of a wider investment in clinical studies infrastructure,which will deliver major efficiencies to industry. It is regarded as crucial to attracting pharma industry to invest in research in Scotland;
  • focused investment will continue in the Main Research Providers and Marine ScotlandScience, funded by the Rural and Environment portfolio to deliver benefits to ruralbusinesses and the wider economy. This includes new centres of expertise on climatechange, water and animal disease preparedness;
  • and the Scottish Government will continue to build on Scotland’s science and research basethrough support for the growth of Scotland’s life sciences sector through targeted schemes to support near-market research and development projects (feasibility and prototype development) by small and medium enterprises;

The healthcare research budget is maintained (page 118). This is the pot which the Chief Scientist Office and NHS research funding comes from. On page 122, they outline their priorities for 2011-2012 including:

maintain our commitment to research

On page 141 it looks like there may be a slight cut to the science and society budget, from £7.6 million in 2010-11 to £6.4 million in 2011-12.

What next?

The finance committee will scrutinise the budget and take evidence on 6 December.

We were up in Scotland last week working to get medical research on MSPs agendas ahead of the Scottish elections in May – check out this previous post for more.

Posted in: Policy