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We join call for government to protect investment in UK science

Posted by: Research 11 September 2015

The UK has long been established as a world leader in research and the government’s investment is vital to maintain this position and leverage further investment from charities, academic institutions, companies and individuals. Research is essential for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as pancreatic cancer, in order to improve patient outcomes and to save lives.

Back in 2012 our Research Policy Briefing - A Cancer of Unmet need: the pancreatic cancer research challenge - made the case for a rise in pancreatic cancer research spending levels. Since the report, there has been an e-petition organised by Maggie Watts calling for, amongst other things, more research spending for pancreatic cancer. That petition received over 100,000 signatures and was debated in Parliament. Moreover, in 2014 the All Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer produced a report echoing our calls for an increase in research funding. 

On 25 November, Chancellor George Osborne will set out the Government’s spending plans for the next five years in the 2015 Comprehensive Spending Review, which will include £20 billion in cuts to departmental budgets. Pancreatic Cancer UK has joined almost 200 organisations urging the UK Government to keep its promise to sustain and protect investment in science, medical research and infrastructure.

In an open letter that was published in the Financial Times, we made the case that continued support for UK science should be a government priority in order to ensure that organisations such as Pancreatic Cancer UK can continue to deliver world-leading research for people with pancreatic cancer.

The full text of the letter can be read below:

Sir, 

The UK is a scientific superpower. Strong, predictable and long-term government investment provides the foundation for its outstanding, multidisciplinary research base. Diverse public funding is critical to maintain the UK’s world-leading position, and improve the health and wellbeing of the population. It drives growth and attracts a wealth of global corporations, investors and charities.

As representatives of almost 200 organisations from across the life sciences, we urge the government to reinforce its commitment to science in the 2015 Spending Review and cement the UK as a global leader in research and development. Our investment and support depend on it.

The UK pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical technology and diagnostics sectors generate an estimated annual turnover of £56bn, and employ 183,000 people, even more in supply chains. Venture capitalists and specialist investors back early-stage innovative companies as they grow and flourish. Medical research charities attract support from millions of individual donors, investing £1.3bn a year and funding the salaries of more than 12,000 researchers in universities and institutes. None of this would be possible without strong government support.

Securing public funding for cross-disciplinary research will deliver benefits to patients, increase private sector confidence and deliver productivity gains, not least through the development and retention of a highly skilled workforce. In recent years, Chancellor George Osborne has made it clear that science is a personal priority. We ask the government to deliver its vision for this area by protecting its essential investment.