Chemistry contributes £250bn to UK economy

October 4, 2010

One in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent on developments in chemistry research, according to a new report commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

One in every five pounds in the UK economy is dependent on developments in chemistry research, according to a new report commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). In 2007, industries reliant on chemistry contributed £258 billion to the UK economy — equivalent to 21% of the UK GDP.

Professor David Delpy, chief executive, EPSRC, said, "The products of chemistry and other areas of science and engineering research are present in nearly every facet of the UK economy and these figures not only remind us of the remarkable return on our investment in chemistry research, but also of the imperative to continue developing world leaders in the field."

The report looks at 'upstream' and 'downstream' industries — those that produce or depend to varying degrees on chemicals. According to the RSC it provides a dramatic illustration of the true value of chemistry research to the country.

"As well as the significant contribution they continue to make in promoting the country's economic growth,” said David Willetts, minister for universities and science, “the chemical sciences offer 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."

The report, by Oxford Economics, evaluated the contribution of chemistry research to many different industries and found that fifteen key sectors, including health, electronics, textiles and aerospace, are wholly or partly reliant on the chemical sciences.