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Innovation policy slammed

A government White Paper aimed at unlocking innovation in business, public services and universities has been criticised by the Royal Academy of Engineering for ignoring engineering.

The Innovation Nation White Paper, published last week by the Department for Universities, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, puts too much emphasis on science and too little on engineers, says the academy.

"We find it worrying that there is so little understanding in the White Paper of the role of engineers and engineering in innovation and turning innovative ideas into reality," says the academy response to the White Paper.

"Science, which is mentioned regularly, is concerned with understanding the world we live in. Engineering, however, is concerned with changing and adapting the world we live in, which is inextricably linked to innovation."

The academy also said the White Paper failed to recognise that proposed changes in the way academic research is funded could count against university engineering departments.

There are proposals to award funding on the basis of the number of citations rather than the current system of peer review, which it argues would favour pure science research.

"We are particularly concerned about the government’s understanding and interpretation of engineering research.

"Contrary to the view expressed in the White Paper, the current review of the Research Assessment Exercise will value applied and practice based research even less than the current system, undermining the potential for engineering research to make a real economic impact by meeting the industry’s needs in the UK."

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