Scientists call for 4G cash to be injected into tech research

thinking outside of the box

Professor Brian Cox and author Ben Goldacre have backed a campaign to get money made from next year's 4G auction invested in science and technology projects in the UK.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) and Technology innovation charity Nesta, are spear-heading the '4Growth' campaign, pressing ministers to use the 4G revenues to invest in "technologies vital to the UK's future."

The 4G auction is being held to allot parts of the spectrum to provide next-generation mobile broadband. Operator EE has already launched its own 4G network reusing spectrum is possessed for 2G services on the 1800MHz band. Other providers such as Vodafone and O2 will bid for spectrum in order to launch their own networks next year.

Physicist and broadcaster Professor Brian Cox and "Bad Science" author Ben Goldacre have signed a petition on the 4Growth website calling for funds to promote innovation.

"From training new science and maths teachers, to creating new funds to help innovative businesses, 4 billion could revolutionise the UK," a report from the campaign read.

"The proceeds of the auction are a return on past generations' investments in technology. The responsible way to use it is to reinvest them in technology."

The campaign, which also counts Nobel laureate and graphene pioneer Andre Geim, and former science minister Lord William Waldegrave, said more needs to be done to transform research from universities into commercial projects.

Evidence has shown that countries can innovate more where the government is supportive, according to campaigners, who added that only 45 per cent of UK research and development is funded by businesses, compared to over 60 per cent for the US, Germany, and Japan even though innovation led to twothirds of all UK economic growth in the years 20002008, and fastgrowing, innovative businesses create the majority of jobs.

The campaign recommends that 1.15 billion be spent on a technology procurement body, called the UK Vision Agency, that would act in a similar way to Darpa in the US.

The campaign said that another 1.5 billion should be used to build up the UK's knowledge infrastructure to make it "fit for the 21st century", including technology demonstrators and new research and production facilities.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.