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Episode Two of Productivity Puzzles’ New Season is Live

The latest episode of Productivity Puzzles considers the UK’s science and innovation policy in the current economic climate. Host Bart van Ark is joined by Richard Jones, Vice-President for Regional Innovation and Civic Engagement and Professor of Materials Physics at the University of Manchester, and Diane Coyle, Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge.

With the formation of a new Department for Science, Innovation & Technology, the episode covers the challenges faced by science and innovation policy, including productivity stagnation, energy transition, security, health, and ageing. These challenges are complex and require significant investment in research and development (R&D) to address them effectively, but solving these issues requires clarity on the how much R&D investment is needed and the appropriate balance between government and business investment.

The panellists discuss Richard Jones’ recent TPI paper, Science and Innovation Policy for Hard Times, which examines how the UK’s approach to science and innovation has changed over the years, including the shift of large chunks of science and discovery from government-controlled entities to universities. This shift, coupled with the fact that private business has not filled the gap, means that the role of government in R&D has become more muddled than ever before.

The podcast also looks at some of the important questions and puzzles posed by a new strategy for science, innovation and technology policy, including determining who should decide the focus for scientific research, who should conduct the research, and how funding should be organised. Finally, the guests talk about what has worked in the past and what needs to be changed in the future if the UK wants to achieve its goal of becoming a science superpower. Furthermore, is it even possible for the UK to reach those heights?

To find out more, listen to Science and Innovation Policy for Hard Times, which is available on The Productivity Institute website, or wherever you get your podcasts.