The 'disconnect' between science and innovation within Scotland

Reports & Briefings
Clare de Mowbray

The science base in Scotland has traditionally been strong, with world- leading universities driving the development of science – a fact that is shown in a number of studies (Scottish Science Advisory Council, 2009)1. The contribution of the science community has been significant in the past and current trends suggest that Scotland is geared to produce high-quality research in the future. Particularly significant is the contribution of scientists to the fields of agriculture, biological sciences, biochemistry, and immunology, where Scotland stands amongst the top five countries in the world, in terms of publication numbers per million head of population.

However, data suggests that this excellence in the science base has not translated well into innovation. One of various indicators of poor translation is the patent record, which is relatively poor for Scotland (Figure 1). For instance, with 68.5 patents per million head of population, Scotland generates four times fewer patents than Finland (281.5 patents per million head), significantly fewer than countries like Sweden, Japan, Germany and US (294, 226, 209, and 132.5 patents per million, respectively) and even fewer than the UK average (with 84 patents per million).

FUS-Briefing-1-1.pdf (754.23 KB, application/pdf)