Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers

  In our last financial year (January-December 2001), the Institution's total income from all sources was approximately £19.8 million. Only a tiny fraction of this (£0.12 million) was directly from central government departments, and all of that was for specific projects, viz:

    Sponsorship of Manufacturing Excellence Awards (DTI)—£50,000

    Administration of BEP Biothrust Challenge (DTI)—£47,000

    Administration of Whitworth Scholarship Fund (DES)—£24,000

  The bulk of our income comes from membership subscriptions, publications and events. Many engineers within central government are members of IMechE and/or purchase our publications or attend our events, so some of this income will inevitably come from departmental budgets, but it is not possible to put an exact figure on this.

  We provide advice to government mainly via responding to government consultations on matters relevant to mechanical engineering (eg energy policy, transport systems, manufacturing competitiveness) and through occasional parliamentary/ministerial lobbying activities. We are involved in communicating engineering and technology to the public mainly via various schools initiatives, open days, local and national news media and our web site.

  I would like to turn now to our own views on government funding of the scientific learned societies, most notably RAEng and RS. We applaud much of the excellent work done by these bodies. The RAEng's Ingenia publication is highly commendable, for example. We also admire their ability to raise substantial funds from industry in addition to grant in aid moneys received from central government, and recognise this as a good indicator of the quality and relevance of the work they do. We would, however, like to make the following additional point:

  Science is a vital part of the innovation process, but it is engineering that transforms scientific understanding into the innovative, successful technologies that society needs and desires. It has long been recognised that the UK is excellent at science, but lags other nations in the exploitation of that knowledge. The current imbalance between government support for science and that for engineering seems symptomatic of this trend. Until government recognises that engineering excellence is every bit as vital to the UK as scientific excellence, we will never close the competitiveness gap that exists between us and many other nations.

Sir Michael Moore KBE LVO

Director General

April 2002

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