Submission from BAE Systems
There is no need for a separate Department for
Science. BAE Systems recognises the Department for Innovation,
Universities and Skills, supported by a pan-government network
of Chief Scientific Advisers, as significant champions for science
There is merit in pure research but we firmly believe
most research should be requirements driven, focused on enhancing
the UK's economic performance and overcoming the challenges facing
society at large.
Regional science policy would introduce duplication
and inefficiency. In addition, regional objectives could conflict
with national concerns, diverting focus and funding.
If Science and Engineering is to be at the heart
of Government Policy we must ensure that world class scientists,
engineers and technicians are developed through the UK education
system. To achieve this goal we must increase our efforts to encourage
the study of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
subjects from the earliest stages in the curriculum and to promote
the widespread contribution science and engineering makes to the
Greater recognition and support for the achievements
of the science and engineering communities would increase public
affinity and awareness and create a platform for better engagement
and debate around major science and engineering issues affecting
BAE Systems employs 35,000 people in the
UK (of which over 18,000 of these are in scientific, technical
and engineering roles). It directly or indirectly helps to sustain
over 100,000 UK jobs.
The company contributes in excess of £4 billion per
annum to UK exports and flows down work valued in excess of £2 billion
per annum to its UK supply chain.
Based on the productivity measure of value add per employee, the
BAE Systems workforce contributes some 72% more than the UK average.
Every year BAE Systems undertakes research and development valued
in excess of £1 billion.
The UK Defence Industry is the world's second largest
and is founded upon world-class scientific, technical and engineering
capabilities. The industry sustains investment in research and
technology, people and processes that benefit not only its own
purposes but also, through academic partnerships and its supply
chain, other industrial sectors.
BAE Systems believes the UK should recognise
science and engineering as national assets that must be sustained
and continually enhanced to maintain the country's position as
a leading global economy.
In this submission, we will address each of
the Committee's questions separately, drawing upon the experiences
and perspectives of our own company to demonstrate a case for
placing "Science and Engineering at the heart of Government
Policy" and the creation of a national strategy spanning
government, industry and academia.
1. Whether the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Science
and Innovation and the Council for Science and Technology put
science and engineering at the heart of policy-making and whether
there should be a Department for Science
We believe the UK's science and engineering
sectors make a pivotal contribution to the prosperity and security
of our nation. The science, technology and engineering sectors
underpin and sustain success in other areas such as finance, medicine
and commerce. Emergent economies in the Middle East and Asia invest
heavily in these sectors, recognising the significant and sustainable
economic contribution they make.
Systems Engineering is playing a growing role in
the development and operation of numerous complex systems on which
modern society depends. The use of Systems Engineering principles
is almost without limit (Within BAE Systems they are used in a
range of programmes from "traditional" manufacturing
projects through to people-focused training and service-based
projects). Systems Engineering is a critical enabler to Government
and industry and plays a key role in maintaining the UK's global
industry competitive advantage.
In the UK we must continually enhance our science
and engineering sectors to maintain and enhance our place as a
global leader. Government science and engineering policy should
take a holistic approachstarting with the initial introduction
and education and extending to the stimulation of investment and
the realisation of economically valuable business opportunities
around the world.
Fundamental and applied research must be driven
by the UK's needsas a guiding principle we believe in a
split of 80:20 favouring requirements driven research over
pure research. In the US, mission-led funding agencies provide
~70% of federal dollars in to US universities, influencing national
strategies and research directions.
Science and engineering should be intrinsic
to government thinking and closely linked to the objectives of
individual government departments. A separate Department for Science
could be seen to discriminate between science and the objectives
of the Government. It would heighten the risk of valuable funds
being diverted to produce more research publications without delivering
valuecurrently around 90% of research council funding leads
to publications, while only a very small percentage is pulled
through to deliver value to industry.
How Government formulates science and engineering
policy (strengths and weaknesses of the current system)
There needs to be real engagement of industrythis
would ensure a better return on research investment and would
encourage joint funding in areas of benefit to the UK as a whole.
The Chief Scientific Adviser approach provides an
effective interface for industry into individual government departments.
BAE Systems has established relationships with scientific advisers
in departments relevant to our business interests. This enables
research and development investment and strategy to complement
and support the aims of government.
Aligning investment and strategy allows industry
to determine far stronger exploitation paths for the resulting
technologies and capabilities.
Every year BAE Systems undertakes research and
development valued in excess of £1 billion. Investment
of this scale is sustained by the prospect and realisation of
the potential revenue it generates. Aligning research outcomes
with realistic industrial applications is the surest way of delivering
the level of UK technological research investment needed for our
science and engineering sectors to remain globally competitive.
One area where Government Policy would have
a positive impact is to extend this principle of research alignment
more broadly through a far reaching review of the manner in which
research is funded through public and private investment.
Fostering innovation across all areas of the
supply network is critical to the long term success of BAE Systems,
and the UK economy as a whole. To ensure the best use of both
government and related private sector investment it is important
to create an "innovation pipeline", linking investments
at all stages: from "blue sky" research to applied research;
from applied research to incubation of opportunities; and from
the incubation through to growth and exploitation.
It is important we create a balance between
sustaining skills and capabilities within the UK to develop a
global centre of excellence and understanding when we should buy
"off-the-shelf" from other countries.
Whether the views of the science and engineering
community are, or should be, central to the formulation of government
policy, and how the success of any consultation is assessed
As a leading employer of scientists and engineers
BAE Systems supports any move to place the disciplines more centrally
in the formulation of government policy.
However, we recognise that there are numerous considerations
to be made in the creation of policy and any engagement should
address the broadest range of stakeholders possible.
Successful consultation would generate policy
that creates better coherence between the objectives of the science
and engineering sectors (in industry, government, academia and
beyond) and the broader objectives of UK Government policy and
the nation's economic growth aspirations.
The case for a regional science policy (versus
national science policy) and whether the Haldane principle needs
BAE Systems has sites located throughout the
United Kingdom. We work closely with Regional Development Agencies,
regional trade organisations and universities up and down the
country. Nevertheless, we see little merit in individual regional
Instead we believe in policy that is devised nationally,
which can be easily enacted on a regional basis. Our experiences
on the ASTRAEA programme, part of the National Aerospace Technology
Strategy looking at the technological and regulatory issues in
opening the UK airspace to unmanned vehicles, suggests that we
need to create a framework in which this can be done easily. This
£32 million programme is considered very successful
by its major stakeholders, yet, in order to get underway, required
13 discrete funding bodies, 43 separate agreements and
176 signatures to get underway.
BAE Systems' experiences with the Systems Engineering
Innovation Centre, established in 2002 and based at Loughborough
University, have shown how the Regional Development Agencies,
in this case East Midlands Development Agency, working in partnership
with industry and academia can create high quality research environments
that deliver benefits to all those involved.
The Haldane principle has been interpreted to
mean that research decisions should be made by the researchers
themselves, on scientific principles, removed from political considerations.
From our perspective this could be seen to perpetuate the situation
whereby the application of research funding fails to match the
challenges facing the economy, industry and society at large.
From our perspective this could be seen to perpetuate
the situation whereby the application of research funding fails
to match the challenges facing the economy, industry and society
at large. Our position is that there is merit in research based
on academic curiosity the emphasis must be on research with obvious
potential for application and exploitation. It is on this basis
that we have developed our strategic partnerships with four leading
UK Universities in Aeronautical Engineering (Cranfield), Support
Engineering (Cambridge), Systems Engineering (Loughborough) and
Distributed Data and Information Systems (Southampton).
Engaging the public and increasing public confidence
in science and engineering policy
Collectively we must do more to raise public
awareness of science and engineering. As a nation we are happy
to praise the achievements of scientists and engineers in history
and Newton and Brunel are often cited as examples of Britain's
technological and scientific "greatness". Sadly, we
appear less adept at recognising those who currently continue
to advance science and engineering in this country.
Excellence in science and engineering is worthy of
reward and recognition and collectively we must consider how we
can create role models by highlighting the contribution science
and engineering make to society and instilling an understanding
of their value in the minds of the general public.
Increasing numbers of young people are enrolling
in undergraduate and post-graduate degree programmes in STEM.
Nevertheless there remains an imperative to attract the quantity
and quality of people needed to sustain this skill base. BAE Systems
uses an innovative theatre-based schools road show to give 9-13 year
olds a new perspective on science, technology, engineering and
manufacturing. 43,000 students have seen how these subjects
affect their everyday lives. Through this programme we seek to
influence the decisions that they make when choosing GCSE subjects;
decisions that can determine whether they can pursue a future
career in science, engineering or technology.
It is critical to the engagement of young people,
their perceptions of the subjects and their desire to pursue those
subjects through to A-Level, diploma, further education and higher
education that teachers are well qualified, enthusiastic and of
a high quality. BAE Systems was the first corporate sponsor of
the National Science Learning Centre at the University of York
and has committed £1 million to support the high quality
professional development for everyone involved in the teaching
of science in UK primary schools, secondary schools and further
Initiatives encouraging the transfer of skills
from industry to education, such as the "Transition to Teaching"
programme, will also support improvement in the quality of science
teaching in schools. This will help ensure that science teachers
are provided with best practice training in the delivery of science
teaching in the classroom. While we in business are fortunate
to receive regular development, a recent survey by the Wellcome
Trust showed that only half of science teachers had any subject
specific training in the last five years.
Furthermore, we need to engage with sections
of society in which the study of engineering and science is not
prevalent. In 2008 BAE Systems ran a pilot activity in Preston
and Blackburn to reach out to ethnic minority students, who are
not currently applying for apprenticeships with the company. We
will be reviewing the project with the schools early next year
and planning to build on this with more activity in 2009.
Industry can also provide direct exposure to
the reality of the science and engineering workplace. Each year
we host over 700 14-16 year olds on work experience
placementsproviding an incomparable insight into the opportunities
a science and engineering career can offer.
There is evidence of increased awareness, understanding
and application of systems engineering in the UK. In parallel
we are experience a shortage in skilled systems engineers to meet
the demands of the defence sector. Government and industry work
should ensure our education systemfrom schools through
to universitiesprovides sufficient, suitably trained systems
engineers, supported by continued professional development throughout
their careers. In addition, research funding should be invested
in a manner that enhances the nation's systems engineering competencies
and, as a result, its future economic competitive advantage.
BAE Systems is not alone in making these investments
and other companies, various governmental and non-governmental
organisations run programmes with similar goals. A national co-ordinated
framework could widen participation from small and medium-sized
businesses and align the efforts of industry and government, yielding
better long term outcomes. We would encourage the Parliamentary
Committee to consider this opportunity as part of its Inquiry.
The role of GO-Science, DIUS and other Government
departments, charities, learned societies, Regional Development
Agencies, industry and other stakeholders in determining UK science
and engineering policy
Influencing UK science and engineering policy
is the responsibility of all organisations with an interest in
the growth of the UK economy. While the final decision and direction
of policy clearly lies with the Government it is, in our view,
incumbent upon the Executive to ensure the necessary consultation
takes place. Doing so would ensure policy is well supported, realistic
and in the best interests of the UK.
Science and engineering are not discrete activities
that take place independent of wider considerationsthis
is one of the reasons BAE Systems does not support the creation
of a separate Department for Science.
Government Policy should support the objectives
of this broad community of stakeholders and, in our opinion, provide
incentives in areas deemed beneficial to the UK's economy growth.
How government science and engineering policy
should be scrutinised
Parliamentary scrutiny of Government Policy,
such as Select Committees, remains the responsibility of our elected
representatives in Parliament. However, a greater knowledge and
understanding of the principles of science and engineering and
the challenges facing the community would form a basis for better
We also believe the consultation process employed
in the formulation of policy should continue through to the scrutiny
stages. This would ensure the link between the initial objective
and the programme devised to deliver it is maintained.
168 Study of BAE Systems Economic Impact to the UK
Economy-conducted by Oxford Economics (Published-April 2008). Back
Study of BAE Systems Economic Impact to the UK Economy-conducted
by Oxford Economics (Published-April 2008). Back
Study of BAE Systems Economic Impact to the UK Economy-conducted
by Oxford Economics (Published-April 2008). Back