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IOP response to the autumn statement 2023

22 November 2023

Incentives alone not enough to match other nations on R&D spend, improve diversity in physics and address STEM skills shortages, but apprenticeships funding and quantum missions are to be welcomed.

Commenting on today’s autumn statement, Tom Grinyer, group Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, said: “The Chancellor has offered much-needed fuel to UK research and development (R&D), with incentives for universities, scientists, foreign investors, businesses and pension funds to invest in UK innovation and help secure our place in the global tech revolution. Physics-based innovation, from green technologies to breakthrough cancer treatments, depends upon this kind of government stimulus.

“But this alone will not be enough to cement our status as a science superpower and reap the benefits for our economies and communities. We must do more than catch up with other nations – ahead of the next general election, all parties must set out how we will match the top Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development nations on R&D investment.

“We must also tackle the STEM skills shortage and attract more, and more diverse, young people into subjects like physics. Apprenticeships are a key part of this, and physics-powered businesses tell us apprentices are needed now at the forefront of the new tech economy.

“The £50m new funding for apprenticeships is a welcome potential boost for engineering, physics-powered industries, and other areas that face skills shortages. We must now ensure that funding reaches all high-growth and innovation sectors which are powered by physics and held back by the skills shortage.”

On the announcement of a series of quantum missions in the full published autumn statement, Tom Grinyer went on to say: “The new quantum missions are welcome statements of ambition in high-potential areas – it is now crucial that more detailed roadmaps are developed in further collaboration with the physics community, and that these are backed by new funding.”