192. International collaboration in energy RD&D
has many advantages such as exposure to the best of overseas innovation
and technology and the participation of UK scientists in the best
international research. It also enables the UK to take part in
programmes that it would otherwise not fund and provides a critical
mass, a benefit provided that the UK gets a proportional return.
As Tom Delay from the Carbon Trust put it: "there are some
technologies that really will only succeed if managed and invested
in on a collaborative basis between nations, companies and so
on international collaboration could result in UK interests not
being reflected in the technology or the timescale of the project.
The Government also has a concern that components and services
are sourced from overseas with UK companies losing out.
193. The Government identifies three forms of international
collaboration: the European Union's Framework Programme for Research
and Development, the International Energy Agency's Implementing
Agreements, and bilateral Memoranda of Understanding, such as
that with US Department of Energy.
194. We considered the energy funding from the European
Commission's Framework Programme in paragraphs 53-56. We are addressing
this funding stream in our inquiry "UK Science in Europe:
Value for Money?". We aim to establish whether Framework
6 and the European Research Area promote valuable collaborations
or simply alliances of convenience, and whether research collaborations
are flourishing in Europe outside of the Programme. We plan to
report in summer 2003.
195. DTI has a Memorandum of Understanding with the
US Department of Energy "to continue, expand, and maximise
cooperation in energy research and development". It was signed
in 2000 and runs for 10 years. The areas covered are fossil energy;
renewable energy; waste management and the environment; energy
end-use technologies; and policy research.
Sir David King told us the value of this agreement, although it
is hard to believe that the US is being quite as generous as he
196. The International Energy Agency, of which the
UK is a member, runs a number of international collaborative energy
RD&D projects known as Implementing Agreements. Countries
can choose to participate in these collaborations, or not. As
of November 2002, the UK participated in all but six of the 42
programmes (including nine through EURATOM).
197. There is a danger that international collaboration
is seen as an alternative to a strong domestic programme. This
cannot be allowed to occur. Britain needs the researchers to ensure
that the UK can apply the research to its own needs; moreover
the UK needs to develop researchers who are competent to take
part in international collaborations. The UK can only play
a significant role in international programmes if it is done from
a strong national base. Participation in multinational ventures
must be used to complement a strong domestic RD&D base.
321 Q 257 Back
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