Industries dependent on physics contribute £15 bn to the Scottish business economy, according to analysis commissioned by the Institute of Physics (IOP) and conducted by the Centre for Economic and Business Research.
With physics-based industries directly generating a turnover worth £43.5 bn, physics is not just the source of inventions and ideas, but also the means by which Scotland’s economic future can be secured.
The report – the most comprehensive study of the role of physics in the growth and productivity of Scotland – was launched today, prior to a networking event celebrating the report, taking place at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on January 18.
Physics-based industries in Scotland are responsible for the employment of more than half a million people, and those directly employed in these industries each contribute nearly £78,000 a year in gross value added.
Professor Martin Hendry, chair of IOP Scotland and one of the researchers involved in the hunt for gravitational waves, said of the report: “The data show that physics-based industries have huge impact, creating lots of jobs and impressive levels of productivity.
“But the economic prosperity that physics brings does not happen without the continued support of the education, research and skills systems.
“The strength of physics-based business in Scotland is built on past investment in cutting-edge physics, and we know that it is often the basic, curiosity-driven research of today that inspires and underpins the applications and technologies of tomorrow.”
Physics and the technology it underpins are important to a wide range of industries, all of which the country is dependent on for its economic growth.
Physics-based industries encompass energy generation, transportation, everyday household appliance design and manufacture, telecommunications and broadcasting, medical technology development and even waste collection and disposal.
Chief executive of the IOP, Professor Paul Hardaker, commented: “Last week Barack Obama, like many of our leaders from politics and economics, made a speech about how important science is to creating jobs, strengthening economies and improving health and well-being.
“Scotland is no exception, and this is built on a long and distinguished tradition in world-leading physics research in universities and businesses.
“For me, this report highlights both the value of investing in that research and innovation base and how important it is to make sure we inspire and nurture the next generation of physicists who are studying in our schools and colleges.”
Read the report in full at: http://www.iop.org/publications/iop/2017/file_68806.pdf