Memorandum submitted by Glaxo Wellcome
1. Glaxo Wellcome is a research-based company
whose people are committed to fighting disease by bringing innovative
medicines and services to patients throughout the world and to
the healthcare providers who serve them.
2. In 1999, Glaxo Wellcome invested £1.269
billion on research and development, of which £507 million
was in the UK. Currently Glaxo Wellcome employs 9,270 staff in
its R&D organisation, with 4,500 based in the UK and 2,700
in the US.
3. In 1999 Glaxo Wellcome led the UK's R&D
Scoreboard for the fifth successive year1, but despite this significant
investment, we estimate that we carry out less than 1 per cent
of the global research that is relevant to our business. Access
to the 99 per cent of knowledge outside our business and access
to the best scientists and engineers are critical for our success.
4. Glaxo Wellcomeor at that time
Glaxo Group plc and The Wellcome Foundation Ltdtherefore
supported the objectives of the 1993 White Paper.
5. At the time of the publication of the
White Paper Realising our Potential: a strategy for science,
engineering and technology in 1993, there had not been a government
strategy for science and technology or any significant pronouncement,
for over 20 years. It therefore fulfilled a clear need to create
a national strategic vision around which government could recognise
the need and importance of science, engineering and technology
in the knowledge-driven economy. The objectives of the White Paper
appeared to receive cross-government support, when published.
6. Over the last 10 to 15 years there has
been a significant increase in the interaction between university
and industry. It is arguable whether this would have happened
anyway. But this is not the pointfor the first time in
some years the UK Government recognised the positive contribution
science could make to people's lives and the UK economy.
7. The cornerstone of the House of Commons
Science and Technology Committee's inquiry is "to inquire
into and examine the impact of the 1993 White PaperRealising
our Potential". We would urge that care be taken not
to judge this impact in terms of "success" or "failure".
Rather it must be looked at in terms of an on-going strategic
vision of the role science, engineering and technology play in
a modern society and how the UK can continually review, develop
and harness its research strengths.
8. In this paper Glaxo Wellcome hopes to
highlight areas where there has been a significant impact but
also identify where expectations have not been met or opportunities
lost. We hope these will be viewed in a constructive lightthe
object must be to build on the 1993 White Paper and develop UK
science, engineering and technology policy to address our needs
today and develop a sustainable strategy for the future.
9. Science and innovation strategies can
never stand still. Science and technology has moved forward rapidly
since 1993. Perhaps the best illustration of this is on two fronts.
First, the human genome project was still at the concept stage,
yet it will be completed in an initial form this year. And second,
the impact of the internet across society, enabling access to
information that, in 1993, was not widely envisioned.
10. It must also be remembered that other
countries are striving to enhance and improve their science, engineering
and technology base. If the UK is to remain at the forefront of
scientific research we cannot afford to stand still. The UK must
sustain investment in research infrastructure and be able to train,
retain and attract the best scientists.
11. As a global company, Glaxo Wellcome
seeks interaction with the science and engineering base for three
to access new knowledge that is of
relevance to our business, especially in understanding the underlying
cause and progression of disease, but also related to other aspects
of our business wherever appropriate;
to identify and recruit leading researchers
and technically trained individuals that support our research
access to vocational and applied
courses that allow our staff to update their skills.
12. Whilst Glaxo Wellcome interacts with
and supports the UK science, engineering and technology base in
a variety of ways, the common denominator of all our collaborations
13. As the leading company investing in
R&D in the UK, Glaxo Wellcome believes and actively supports
the research base. In 1999 over £17 million was spent supporting
external collaborative research by our UK R&D organisation,
covering research projects, Professorial chairs, supporting research
and vocational training and clinical research fellowships. Access
to an industrial environment is also important for the training
of new research scientists, whether they subsequently enter an
industrial or academic research environment. Glaxo Wellcome therefore
currently supports over 260 active PhD studentships linked to
54 different universities across the UK and provides over 240
one-year placements for undergraduate students between their second
and third years with full-time contracts. Finally in 1999 some
£35 million was spent in the UK universities, hospitals and
institutes to support the critical areas of clinical research
and therapeutic trials.
1. THE EXTENT
1993 WHITE PAPER,
The annual publication of Forward Look to provide
clear and up-to-date statement of the Government's Strategy for
science, engineering and technology
14. The Forward Look was one of the key innovations
of the White Paper. Its purpose, replacing the annual review,
was "to give the industrial and research communities a clear
and up-to-date statement of the Government's strategy". This
is something that was warmly welcomed and when published, assisted
in clarifying the importance each government department placed
on science and technology. It is also likely that it encouraged
those departments who were not already doing so, to crystallise
their objectives from such spending.
15. However there are a number of concerns
relating to the Forward Look. In particular there are two key
although presenting a holistic picture
of funding, it appeared that departmental strategies were developed
in isolation of each other; and
the Forward Look has not been published
annually since the 1993 White Paperthe momentum generated
by its appearance was lost following the last publication in 1996.
16. GlaxoWellcome believes that the Forward
Look should continue. However, perhaps for the reason that it
was only published for three years, its impact is questionable.
This is best illustrated by the fact that total civil departments
expenditure on SET has dropped in real terms from £1,922.1
million to £1,288 million between 1986-87 and 1998-992. This
period coincides with key issues such as the increasing prevalence
of antibiotic resistant E. coli, BSE and the use of GM crops.
Unless there were dramatic gains in research efficiency, the decline
in spending is counter-intuitive considering the need for decision
making to be based on sound scientific advice.
The creation of Technology Foresight (now Foresight)
17. The Technology Foresight programme has
been positive on a number of fronts. Most importantly it has created
a framework for identifying opportunities in terms of both markets
and emerging technologies. It has drawn in a number of players
into the process and created a mechanism that allows representatives
of diverse communities to express and discuss the technology developments.
18. However there have been a number of
criticisms of the programme, including:
the haste with which the first iteration
was carried out;
the poor penetration to reach those
who would benefit from it most, especially in the industrial sector;
the lack of an on-going strategy
after the publication of the 15 panel reports in Spring 1995this
led to a loss of momentum, poor communication and slow implementation
by government; and
the relatively small impact of the
recommendations or outcomes in terms of government strategy and
expenditure on the science base, especially in terms of civil
19. However Glaxo Wellcome believes that
the programme should continue and must be a stronger tool for
development of government policy. The current round of Foresight
has introduced a number of new conceptssuch as re-orienting
the panels and introducing the knowledge pool, a resource which
is open to all. Re-invigorating Foresight is essential if the
on-going programme is not to stagnate.
The abolition of the Advisory Council on Science
and Technology and its replacement with the Council for Science
and Technology "to help ensure that the Government benefits
from outside independent and expert advice when deciding on its
own research spending priorities"
20. The replacement of the "ACST"
with the "CST" is not the key issue. That must be the
impact such an independent advisory body, whatever its name, has
within Government and the perception of it as a leader in the
21. Undoubtedly in the first four to five
years of its establishment, the profile of the CST was low and
consequently its role and influence unclear. However in 1997-98
its modus operandi was reviewed and a more open approach
to its work programme adopted. In 1999 and 2000 there have been
a number of reports that have been both hard hitting and influential
in their impact3. This has originated from work programmes established
in 1998 and should continue in the future.
The reorganisation of the Research Councils with
modified management structures and new mission statements which
made more explicit their commitments to wealth creation and the
quality of life
The creation of the post of Director-General of
the Research Councils and the absorption of the functions of the
Advisory Board for the Research Councils into the Office of Science
22. We welcomed the reorganisation of the Research
Councils (RCs) with modified management structures and new mission
statements which made more explicit their commitments to wealth
creation and the quality of life and feel that significant benefit
has come from these changes.
23. Of all the RCs, the EPSRC4 arguably
leads the field in consulting on research needs with different
communities. Each Council, although not organised in identifical
fashion, has created mechanisms to actively engage researchers
in shaping forward strategies, whether based in academe or industry.
The EPSRC for example annually publishes a "landscape"
document outlining research areas, following extensive consultation
with "user" communities.
24. There has been concern that the approach
taken by the RCs to engage with industry has led to a reduction
in the amount of funds available for curiosity-driven or fundamental
research. However as indicated in SET Statistics 1999, 60
per cent of Research Council (RC) funding supports "basic"
research according to the Frascati definitions (see Table 1).
Assuming the peer review mechanisms are equitable then the research
funded is likely to be selected on the basis of quality and excellence
rather than whether it is fundamental, strategic or applied.
EXPENDITURE BY THE RESEARCH COUNCILS ACCORDING
TO THE TYPE OF RESEARCH AS DEFINED BY FRASCATI5
|Type of Research Activity
||% of £1.265 billion in 1997-98
25. Glaxo Wellcome has a number of examples where collaboration
with the RCs is addressing a significant major need. These include:
The Edward Jenner Institute for Vaccine Research,
Compton, Berkshire: Glaxo Wellcome provided £40 million over
10 years from 1994, to establish the Jenner Institute in collaboration
with the BBSRC, the MRC and the Department of Health. The RCs
are expected to sustain long-term support after the first 10 years,
although the Institute must remain a centre of scientific excellence.
Working with EPSRC, Glaxo Wellcome has stimulated
the creation centres of excellence in combinatorial chemistry
to support research and postgraduate training.
The Industrial Quota CASE Awards, pioneered by
EPSRC, provide an effective mechanism where young scientists can
gain their doctorates carrying out research in an industrial environment,
while ensuring academic rigour through strong links with their
The launch of a new campaign to spread understanding of science
among school children and the public
26. Earlier this year the House of Lords published a
report on Science and Society6. This report crystallised
the increasing view that it is not the public understanding of
science that is key, but rather the two-way communication or engagement
of the "public" with scientific developments. As Glaxo
Wellcome's submission commented7 "a more realistic approach
would be to encourage scientists understanding of the public".
27. There are three keys to ensuring an informed debate:
first, an awareness of the scientific process,
encompassing the core issues of uncertainty, hypothesis testing
second, engaging young people in the debate on
the application and advancement of science in a modern society;
third, that we provide a sound science education
within the national curriculum framework.
28. We cannot expect every individual to have an "understanding
of science"indeed many scientists specialising in
one field are largely ignorant of advances in others. But what
all scientists share is the understanding of the process.
29. The "new campaign launched to spread understanding
of science among school children and the public" has had
mixed success, as can be seen in the recent debates surrounding
GM crops. The associated furore can be equated to the outcry when
the first heart transplants took place. These outcries were driven
not just by the uncertainty in the public's mind, but significantly
by the associated press coverage. It is difficult to see how the
next contentious scientific issue can be handled any differently
with the tabloid spin placed on most scientific reports today.
30. Glaxo Wellcome currently works both with the Royal
Institution of Great Britain (RI)by supporting the Christmas
Lecturesand the British Association for the Advancement
of Science (BAAS)as one of two principal sponsors for Creating
Sparks, with our funding centred on participative experiments
to engage schools and families.
31. Both of these institutions have a particular focus,
the RI around its lectures and discourses at its facility in Piccadilly
and the BAAS in its reach across the country, especially focusing
on its young people's section (BAYS clubs).
32. Whilst both the RI and the BAAS have areas of success
as independent organisations, there is a strong argument for bringing
them together. This would provide an opportunity to move away
from the "professional amateurism" that has historically
typified the UK efforts on engaging the public in science and
create a well-resourced facility that would both have a significant
base in London and outreach across the UK.
33. The joined body could be based at the RI in Piccadilly,
for which a major refurbishment plan is being developed. However
this would only be possible if the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory
could be moved out of the building. The argument against this
is historythere has been an active laboratory at the RI
since its inception. However the laboratory already has strong
links to University College London and moving this facility would
give the excellent researchers therein, access to new and modern
facilities that are singularly absent in their current Piccadilly
home. Such a move could be supported by exceptional funding through,
for example the Joint Infrastructure Fund and modern IT and communication
links could ensure that the close historical association with
the RI continues.
2. WHETHER THE
THE 1993 WHITE
34. These objectives and themes remain valid today. It
is arguable that in the year 2000, the importance of science and
technology in creating a dynamic and successful economy is greater
than in 1993. A clear and consistent science and innovation strategy
is the foundation of the UK remaining an attractive country in
which to invest. It is also important both to ensure that the
UK can capitalise on its investment in science and technology
and provide the well-trained and entrepreneurial individuals upon
which a modern economy depends. In the 1993 White Paper conclusion8
it states that:
"The Government's strategy is to improve the nation's
competitiveness and quality of life by maintaining the excellence
of science, engineering and technology in the United Kingdom.
It will do so by:
developing stronger partnerships with and
between the science and engineering communities, industry and
the research charities;
supporting the science and engineering base
to advance knowledge, increase understanding and produce highly-educated
and trained people;
contributing, according to the United Kingdom's
strengths and interests, to the international, and particularly
European, research effort;
continuing to promote the public understanding
of science and engineering;
ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness
of government-funded research.
The science and technology programmes undertaken in support
of departments' policy, statutory, operational, regulatory and
procurement responsibilities will contribute to this overall strategy".
35. The key issue in delivering an environment in which
science and technology based companies can flourish is that government
policy is consistent across Whitehall. This relates not just to
investment in science and engineering, but also in terms of the
fiscal and regulatory environment. Therefore an excellent science
base will avail nothing if there is not a stable economy and minimum
regulation to encourage the establishment of small high technology
companies and facilitate the appropriate exploitation of science
and technology in larger ones.
36. It is essential that trans-departmental science and
technology is effectively co-ordinated across government. The
current and previous Chief Scientific Advisers have both worked
effectively at co-ordinating the Chief Scientists and Prof Sir
Robert May's guidelines on the use of scientific advice in policy
making provide good guidance. However at the most senior level
in government departments there is still a discontinuity with
strategic investment in science policy.
37. In reality science, engineering and technology strategy
still does not have the status, priority and power that it rightly
deserves. To that end Glaxo Wellcome advocates the following reorganisation
which would provide the necessary authority and central government
the Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA), along with
the Trans-departmental Science and Technology Group in the OST
should be moved to the Cabinet Office, including the Foresight
secretariat. This would strengthen the role of the CSA in co-ordinating
and leading science across Westminster. It would also remove any
confusion between the possible roles of the Director General of
the Research Councils (DGRC) and the CSA (see next point) and
reinforce the latter's role as the adviser to the Prime Minister;
the DGRC should assume control of the OST. The
OST should remain ring-fenced in DTI;
the portfolio for science and technology should
be represented at Cabinet level by a dedicated Minister.
38. If this re-organisation occurred the secretariat
that supports the Council for Science and Technology (CST) should
also move to the Cabinet Office. This would provide greater leverage
to the respective roles of the CST and the CSA, both in terms
of trans-departmental co-ordination and the latter's position
as the principle adviser to the Prime Minister on scientific issues.
3. WHETHER ATTEMPTS
1993 WHITE PAPER
39. It is undoubtedly true that there has been a significant
shift in attitudes across the science, engineering and technology
base over the last 10 years. Academics are willing to both collaborate
with industry and consider establishing start-up companies to
exploit opportunities. Research of relevance to industry is no
longer seen as of peripheral interest.
40. It is arguable that this change in attitude would
have happened anyway, driven by what was happening in other countries,
especially the United States, and fuelled by advances in science
and technology. There has also been a blurring of boundaries between
fundamental, strategic and applied research.
41. This question can only be answered through an experiment
with a good control against which to judge any changesobviously
an impossible scenario. Many indicators that would be selected
against which to judge success, such as an increase in the number
of collaborations between industry and universities, would have
happened anyway, but the 1993 White Paper spawned initiatives
that are likely to have encouraged such links, accelerating the
42. A more appropriate marker is whether the UK has improved
its position in terms of stimulating the exploitation of research,
in advance of our key competitor countries. For example, it could
be claimed that the White Paper was one aspect that has led to
a culture change both in universities and government that has
stimulated the creation of biotechnology firms.
43. But bald figures on a number of biotechnology companies
do not provide the whole picture. The 1999 Ernst & Young European
Life Sciences Report9 noted that the UK had around 270 entrepreneurial
biotechnology companies compared to less than 230 in Germany,
whilst in 200010 this order was reversed, with Germany listing
a few more than the UK's 280. Such direct comparisons are dangerous
as they hide the fact the UK biotech sector is more mature in
terms of both the size of companies and the numbers publicly listed.
44. Perhaps of greatest concern is that although many
leading science and engineering based companies, especially in
the pharmaceutical sector, have deepened their interactions with
academe, the rest of UK industry remains aloof. The poor track
record of investment in R&D by many sectors of industry in
the UK remains a good indicator of this problem. With the exception
of the pharmaceutical sector, chemicals, IT and other SET sectors
continue to under-invest in R&D compared to competitors overseas
as highlighted in the 1999 R&D Scoreboard11 (R&D investment
as a percentage of sales in UK v overseas companies: Pharmaceuticals
15 per cent v 13.5 per cent, Chemicals 1.7 per cent v 6.1 per
cent, Engineering and Machinery 1.6 per cent v 3.3 per cent. Electronic
and Electrical 3.2 per cent v 5.3 per cent, Software and IT services
4.8 per cent v 13.6 per cent).
45. The recommendations of the House of Commons Science
and Technology Committee on "Engineering and Physical Sciences
Based Innovation"12 are pertinent to the problems of engaging
companies in the benefits of science based innovation.
4. THE GOVERNMENT'S
LIFE" . . . DO
46. Glaxo Wellcome fully supports the objectives for
the coming Science and Innovation White Paper set out by the Government
in its consultation paper earlier this year. However there are
two issues that must be addressed:
the White Paper needs full support across government
the need to invest in fundamental science of the
highest quality is recognised.
47. There are five key aspects to a modern strategy for
science, engineering and technology:
investment in excellence to support leading research
infrastructure focused on high quality research groups;
a clear strategic framework for science and technology
consistent leadership from government and coherent
implementation of science-based policies across departments;
a stable macro-economic environment that supports
a climate of innovation, entrepreneurship and risk taking; and
a positive approach to engaging the public in
debating and informing, but not dictating, the application of
48. Underpinning all this must be a continuing focus
on science education in schools. Without a good grounding in science
and the ability to attract the brightest pupils into science,
engineering and technology the science and innovation strategy
currently being prepared will not have the desired impact. Glaxo
Wellcome supports the steps being taken by the Government to address
the key issues in science educationespecially attracting
new science teachers and focusing on what turns pupils off as
they progress through school.
Investment in excellence
49. The UK must ensure that it maintains its investment
in science, engineering and technology to produce both the next
generation of leading scientists and the knowledge upon which
industry increasingly depends. Glaxo Wellcome relies upon this
dual supply of people and knowledge.
50. In 1998 Japan increased its investment in science
by more than the UK's total science budget. This year the US President
is requesting Capitol Hill to approve a 17 per cent increase in
spending to support science. If approved, this will be the second
consecutive year of double-digit science budget growth in the
US. The UK must not only note that other countries are focusing
on the importance of science and technology in creating a dynamic
economy, but respond effectively by investing in high quality
research infrastructure and leading scientists.
Clear strategic framework for science and innovation policy
51. The current science and innovation White Paper being
developed by the UK Government should build and develop upon the
1993 White Paper. Neither should the 2000 White Paper be the last,
the UK must continually adapt and evolve its policy as the rate
of technological change accelerates and new social issues arise
that have a significant scientific component.
Consistent leadership from government
52. The application of science is affected by many different
government departments: the OST in the Department of Trade and
Industry is responsible for funding research projects and postgraduate
training; the DfEE is responsible for science education in schools
and the block grant of the dual funding arm; HM Treasury is responsible
for creating an appropriate fiscal environment in which entrepreneurial
companies and larger companies can invest for the long-term; and
other departments, such as MAFF and DoH, must invest in R&D
to inform policy making.
53. It is essential that one government department does
not inhibit another's policy objective at the very least and preferably
all support key government-wide objectives.
54. The Government's commitment to innovation must also
be consistently demonstrated in the policies and activities of
public sector agencies. For example, the National Health Service
has lagged behind health providers in other advanced economies
in its take-up of new treatments and technologies. The Government
has set up the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE)
with the welcome aim of providing faster access to modern treatments.
However, early experience of NICE has given rise to concerns that
its modus operandi could act as an additional barrier for
new medicines to surmount, on top of the well-established requirements
to demonstrate quality, safety and efficacy.
55. A fundamental problem with NICE's approach is its
premise that everything that needs to be known about a new medicine
can be established through expanded clinical trials. However,
experience shows that the true value of a medicine can only be
ascertained after it has been introduced into the healthcare environment
and used extensively in every day clinical practice. Any attempt
to reach a definitive assessment of the value of a new medicine
before it is recommended for use in the NHS can only act as a
significant disincentive to the introduction of innovative medicines
into the UK, which would prevent real benefits reaching patients.
A stable macro-economic environment
56. If the UK does not sustain a stable environment in
which new companies can be established and existing companies
invest in R&D for the long-term, then all the UK's investment
in education, research and initiatives to support innovation will
be to no avail.
Debating and informing the application of science
57. The UK Government must heed the points raised in
the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee's report on
Science and Society13. Most importantly, as is already
emerging, the relationship between scientists and the public needs
to be reconsidered. Whilst the public should not be able to dictate
the future direction of research, Government, industry and universities
must be able to communicate what they are trying to achieve and
take into account public attitudes.
58. The 1993 White Paper was a landmark in science policy.
It represented the first government statement on the role of science,
engineering and technology for around 20 years. This and the planned
2000 White Paper must not be the last. During the seven intervening
years, there have already been significant advances in science
and technology that are transforming the relationships between
scientists in industry and academe and also between all scientists
and the "public".
59. Whether all the changes witnessed over the intervening
years can be put down to the 1993 White Paper is arguable. What
is certainly true is that it brought together a variety of constituencies
to discuss relevant policy and put in place a framework for exploiting
science to economic benefit and focus on its role to enhance the
quality of life of all in the UK.
60. Glaxo Wellcome, and other major companies, relies
on the products of the science basenamely highly skilled
people and knowledge. The 1993 White Paper has helped in focusing
successive UK Governments to support science and technology. It
is essential that this continues if the UK is to attract and sustain
globally competitive industries.
1 The UK R&D Scoreboard 1999: company data. June
1999. DTI (URN 99/215).
2 Science, engineering and technology statistics 1999.
3 Review of S&T Activity Across Government, CST July
Technology Matters, CST, February 2000.
Science Teachers, CST, February 2000.
4 The Academic Liaison Manager at GlaxoWellcome, is a member
of the Technical Opportunities Panel in EPSRC.
5 After Figure 3.3, SET Statistics 1999: A handbook of
science, engineering and technology indicators, The Stationery
Office, August 1999, Cm 4409.
6 Science and Society. Third report of the House of
Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, Session 1999-2000.
7 Paragraph 36. A Memorandum by Glaxo Wellcome to the House
of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into "Science
and Society". July 1999.
8 Paragraph 8.2, page 68 Realising our potential: a strategy
for science, engineering and technology, May 1993, HMSO, Cm2250.
9 Page 4, Ernst & Young's European Life Sciences
Report 99: sixth annual report, April 1999, Ernst & Young
10 page 6, Ernst & Young's European Life Sciences
Report 99: sixth annual report, April 1999, Ernst & Young
11 The UK R&D Scoreboard 1999Commentary
and Analysis and Company data. DTI June 1999.
12 Engineering and physical science based innovation.
Second Report of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee
13 Science and Society. Third report of the House
of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, Session 1999-2000.