Science central to reinvention of economy

18 January 2010

Science should be at the heart of a reinvention of the UK’s economy according to Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.  Speaking at the Royal Society today, he criticised a past overreliance on finance and consumer services which had left the economy ‘battered’ and urged a new focus on manufacturing and research.

Clegg said: “For a generation our economy has been built on a set of assumptions about the behaviour of markets and the infallibility of financial services.  The economic crisis has rendered those assumptions obsolete.   The challenge that faces us is the reinvention of our economy according to new principles.  Science, maths, engineering and technology must be at the heart of that project.”

In his speech, hosted by the Royal Society’s Science Policy Centre, Clegg also spoke about society’s evolution being determined by its inventors.  Looking to the future he said: “New discoveries will provide the answers to the challenges of the future too.  Climate change, new pandemics, natural disasters, warfare that is biological, chemical, digital.”

Education was another theme of the speech with a particular focus on the importance of early years schooling and its impact on the later take up in science, maths, technology and engineering.

The speech was part of the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary celebrations and the Liberal Democrat leader praised the Society, saying: “There is not a single other body of people that has been so influential in shaping the past, and yet remains so central to shaping the future.”

Download the speech (PDF)