Board for the Research Councils. Defense R&D currently consumes more than 50 percent of the United Kingdom’s research budget. The Ministry of Defense provides this support primarily to industry via contracts and for operation of its own set of laboratories. Less than 2 percent of the ministry’s budget is used for basic research at the universities.
The principal government agencies for civilian R&D are the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Education and Science, with some added activity by the Department of Energy. The Department of Trade and Industry supports industry in two ways: (1) by direct investment (e.g., loans and preproduction guarantees) in firms through its National Research Development Corporation and (2) by direct R&D contracts, usually on a cost-shared basis. In 1983, 61 percent of its funds were spent this way; the balance of the department’s resources went to support programs in other government departments and in its own laboratories. Today, there is a general redirection of the United Kingdom’s national research establishments to R&D more related to market-oriented needs. Research organizations such as the National Engineering Laboratory, the National Physical Laboratory, and Harwell Laboratory work with industry on a contract basis. Harwell, for example, operates essentially as an independent laboratory, serving industry in a self-sufficient fiscal mode.
On the whole, industry contributes less of its own money to R&D than the government spends, a practice just the opposite of that in most other Western nations. British industry is a mixture of public and private firms, and to aid it, the major new 5-year, $500 million Alvey program was established in 1983, primarily to bolster the United Kingdom’s competitive position in microelectronics. The program follows a consortium model involving cooperative R&D, with the costs shared between industry and government on about a 50:50 basis. A follow-on Alvey program ($1.58 billion) is now under consideration, and initiation of still another major collaborative program aimed at developing high-technology products is anticipated. The $640 million Link program will make funding available for selected university projects, provided that the costs are shared equally with industrial sponsors. Projects will cover molecular electronics, transportation systems, food processing engineering, and materials technology. It is presumed that the basis for the projected R&D on materials technology under the Link program had its origin with the submission in 1985 to the Department of Trade and Industry of the Collyear report. The Collyear Committee proposed a 5-year, £120 million program for the wider application of new and improved materials and processes.
The Japanese materials science and engineering establishment is a highly structured enterprise that has been instrumental in many past technological