Government announces Nobel-style engineering prize

The government wants to promote a Nobel-style international prize for engineering as part of a plan to support UK advanced manufacturing.

The prize was announced in the government’s Growth Review last week alongside a series of measures to improve research and training in manufacturing and raise the profile of British engineering.

Few details have yet to be revealed about the prize, but the government said it is working with the private sector to create an endowment to support the scheme.

‘The government’s aim is to make engineering a desirable profession again, where young people aspire to be great engineers,’ the Growth Review document said.

‘The government’s concept of ‘engineering’ is modern and wide. It includes every type of science applied to improving human life and sustaining the natural world.

‘The government believes that an international prize, as prestigious as the Nobel Prize, based in the UK could help to create the excitement that would help give British manufacturing a brighter future.’

The Royal Academy of Engineering said it hoped that the prize would inspire a renaissance of engineering achievement that would be essential to create sustainable economic growth.

‘Only through engineering will the great challenges of our age be met, such as secure supplies of water, food and energy for all and addressing the threat of global warming,’ said Royal Academy president Lord Browne of Madingley.

‘The creative engineering effort going into solving these problems is bound to generate worthy future winners of the new prize.’

Other measures in the Growth Review include:

Extending capital allowances for plant and machinery from four years to eight years;

Expanding the University Technical Colleges (UTCs) programme to establish at least 24 new colleges by 2014;

Accelerating the launch of the new enhanced Manufacturing Advisory Service with an additional £7m to deliver its services over the next three years;

Launching a £75m programme to help smaller employers access Advanced Level and Higher Apprenticeships, creating around 10,000 additional higher apprenticeships over the next four years.

The government also confirmed plans to create a High Value Manufacturing Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC) and fund nine new university-based Centres for Innovative Manufacturing and six new Manufacturing Fellowships to forge links between business and research.

It also said it would launch a high profile industry showcase alongside the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and roll out a programme of ‘Made in Britain’ exhibitions.

The manufacturers’ organisation EEF welcomed the changes. Chief economist Lee Hopley said: ‘Manufacturers can only compete in the UK if they invest in modern machinery, innovate quickly and cost effectively and can attract and recruit people with the right skills.

‘The recommendations in the advanced manufacturing growth plan recognise that government can act to support manufacturers’ ambitions to invest, innovate and export from the UK.

‘Measures to promote and improve STEM education and tax changes that better reflect the way businesses invest should give the UK a boost in the international race for investment.’