A fascinating statistic is contained in a Guardian piece about investment in science,
“The UK’s own Technology Strategy Board helps the commercialisation of everything from low-carbon energy to more efficient ways of producing drugs, and already generates a return nearly £7 for every £1 invested from the public purse – but it receives just £300m of funding per year.”
It makes it even more strange that in these straightened economic times, the best that politicians can come up with is spending on infrastructure projects that create no long term economic benefit, instead of investing in something which gives a 700% return on investment with the potential to enable new industries. There is no guarantee that increasing funding to the TSB would scale the economic benefits – it may be that UK innovators can only absorb £300 million and the rest would be squandered on Herman Miller chairs – but compared with the billions wasted on health service IT systems and identity cards it would be worth a punt.
However, anyone who has had dealings with governments knows all about the inherent inertia in the system, and the fear of political fall out from the slightest bit of bad news – opponents will seize upon the wasted million rather than hundreds of millions generated in the same way that staying in a five-star hotel on government business provokes popular outrage that drowns out the economic benefit of the deals done.