One in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent in some way on the chemistry industry, according to research.
Commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) along with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the study found that £258 billion – equivalent to 21% of UK GDP – was contributed by industries reliant in the chemicals industry in 2007. Those industries employed six million people and accounted for 15% of goods leaving UK shores.
The report looks at ‘upstream’ and ‘downstream’ industries – those that produce or depend to varying degrees on chemicals. Fifteen key sectors, including health, electronics, textiles and aerospace, were adjudged to be either wholly or partly reliant on chemical sciences.
“Those drawn to the chemical sciences find the subject exciting because it provides profound insights into the world around us and offers extraordinarily creative opportunities,” says Dr Richard Pike, chief executive, Royal Society of Chemistry. “But this report also demonstrates the extent to which developments that are led or underpinned by the chemical sciences contribute to the economic well-being of the UK. It sends a clear message that it is essential for us to invest, and invest significantly, in the continued development of the skills pipeline, from schools to university and beyond.”
David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science said government recognises that chemistry offers “great potential for helping us tackle the most urgent challenges the planet faces today such as developing sustainable energy sources and advancing new medical treatments.”