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Tories promise medals not money for science and R&D

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James Dyson's policy review for the Tory party calls for cultural changes to put science and engineering at the centre of British society.

The vacuum cleaner maestro's review said: "We can't PR our way out of the financial black hole." But without money the review runs the danger of doing just that. It calls for "developing high esteem for science and engineering", and recommends future Tory ministers award prizes for inventors and engineers.

The review suggests head teachers get more flexibility to pay science, maths and technology teachers more than other teachers. Dyson also said that teachers want to teach all three science subjects, and should be allowed to.

Dyson also looked at the perennial problem of moving research from university laboratories to the real, profit-making world. He suggested giving universities greater autonomy by cutting bureaucratic assessment systems and by promoting knowledge transfer offices.

He called for better funding for high-tech start-ups by increasing tax relief for angel investors to 30 per cent, and encouraging banks to lend to such firms by offering government guaranteed loans.

Dyson's Ingenious Britain report said R&D tax credits were effective, but badly targeted at high-tech firms, start-ups and small firms. He supported Tory plans to make a quarter of government procurement from small and medium enterprises.

All these policies must happen "alongside the much needed deficit reduction that the Conservatives have argued for". ®

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