Top scientists back campaign to fund world class infrastructure and incentivise innovation

The proceeds from the forthcoming sale of the 4G mobile internet spectrum should be reinvested in UK science and innovation. This is according to the 4Growth campaign backed by physicist and broadcaster Brian Cox, Astronomer Royal Martin Rees, graphene Nobelist Andre Geim and other leading science and technology figures. They propose that the £4 billion that could be potentially raised from the 4G sale should be used to educate and attract more scientists and engineers (£750 million), build world-class research infrastructure (£1.5 billion), fund challenge prizes to incentivise innovation (£1.25 billion) and invest in commercialisation of research (£500 million). A report from the campaign makes the economic argument that the windfall is a result of previous investment in science and innovation and led to two-thirds of all UK economic growth between 2000 and 2008.

The treasury has yet to give any indication where the money will be used, but there will be many sectors hoping for extra funds. When the 3G spectrum was auctioned in 2003, Gordon Brown used the £20 billion raised to reduce the national debt. The shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, has suggested that he would spend the money on creating affordable housing and a stamp duty holiday.