Science and Industrial Dynamics in Scotland
This paper is intended to understand the evolution of the Scottish science and innovations systems before the Scottish independence referendum of September 2014, and the prospects for the next years. Scotland traditionally has a strong science base, with world-leading universities driving the development of science, together with a diverse range of associated research institutes, which mostly survived the Thatcher government rationalisation and privatisation of public research institutes. The science system has been strengthened during the 2000s as devolution brought a set of new and expanded funding streams into the existing UK-based institutions.
There are questions, however, about the relationship between the science base and Scotland’s innovation system. Although it is neither possible or healthy to attempt to rigidly glue science priorities directly to local innovation dynamics, it is important to analyse the frameworks, policies and relationships between actors and activities to understand how Scottish scientific excellence can be exploited to improve capacities for social, cultural and economic development.
This paper first traces key elements of the historical development of the Scottish science system, and the relationship between science and innovation. Then, it details the present situation regarding Scotland’s science base, mapping the Scottish institutions that exist to integrate Scottish science policy. It shows that the science system already operates with some, though rather limited, autonomy from the rest of the UK. This is followed by an analysis of the rather tenuous level of connection between science and innovation. Finally, it presents some thoughts on the future prospects for science and innovation post-referendum.