The economic and social value of physics is not easy to measure. It is not limited to spinouts, or patents or papers, it also includes people trained in physics. It is the skills these people bring to the workforce that are perhaps the greatest single impact of physics. How to ensure that physics graduates have the right skills, and how to maximise the benefits of physics to the UK, were topics discussed at the inaugural ‘IOP Business Forum’ held at the Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus on 11 May.
The Forum, chaired by Dr Norman Apsley (pictured), IOP vice president Business and Innovation, brought together members in business and academia to discuss what the future holds for physics in the North West of England, a region that has an economy bigger than that of the Ukraine.
Professor Colin Whitehouse, deputy CEO of STFC, gave a presentation in the regional and national success story that is Daresbury – a site that brings high-growth science based companies together with cutting edge scientific research. The companies in Daresbury’s science park have shown phenomenal success, with an average annual growth of over 40% and Professor Whitehouse described the plans the park has for expansion and further development.
The Forum also heard from Professor Ian Morrison, Head of Physics at Salford University, who described the work that his department is doing to ensure that these high-value employers of physics graduates can get the skilled employees they need. Through embedding employability an entrepreneurial skills in physics degrees, alongside innovative methods of teaching the core physics, Salford can produce graduates with both the thing that makes them special – the physics – but also make them more prepared to take on vital roles in places such as Daresbury.
The Business Forum is designed to allow discussion of all issues that affect physics and, following the presentations, the attendees explored the roles that schools, universities and employers an all play to ensure that there are enough high quality physics graduates in the region, and the UK as a whole. Attendees considered how schools should work to ensure that they do more than simply prepare for exams and how new technologies and video content could be used to accomplish this.
There was a clear consensus that physics is of vital importance to companies like those at Daresbury, and that the IOP should continue to work hard to give these companies more of a voice.
Find our more about upcoming Business Forum events around the UK.