Wednesday, July 25, 2007

UK PLC - Your R&D department needs help.

On the day that Alistair Darling proclaims that UK PLC is open for business, the Today program (Real Audio) reports that, for the want of investment that was promised in 2005, the UK lead in stem cell therapies is slipping.

To summarise: the unfavourable political climate in the US has lead to an influx of overseas researchers to the UK. However, the startup investment in this research promised two years ago by the UK government has not been delivered. Meanwhile, US Biotech companies are gearing up to take advantage of the expected softening in the stance on stem cell research in the US that will come after the 2008 presidential elections. It looks like the lucrative technologies resulting from this research will eventually be patented not by UK researchers, but by US private companies. Regardless of one's position on a) stem cell therapies and b) patents, and intellectual property in general, it's poor business practice on the part of UK PLC to surrender its competitive advantage in this field without a fight. Yet short sighted cuts in the science budget show just how little UK PLC values its R&D department.

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