Lord Robert Winston goes back to school to inspire future scientists during UCBs Work in Science Week

Scientific breakthroughs are a very British tradition and UCB is on a mission to ensure scientific innovation remains vibrant in the UK. Work in Science Week hopes to ignite a passion for science amongst school children and in turn generate more graduates who pursue R&D careers. Initiatives like Work in Science Week are needed as new survey shows pupils missing out on science careers advice

Young scientists were treated to a special science lesson from Lord Professor Robert Winston as he paid a visit to UCBs world-leading immunology research centre. The renowned scientist spoke to pupils about the exciting opportunities available in science as part of an annual ‘Work in Science Week’ held at the UK headquarters of UCB.

Throughout Work in Science Week, pupils joined UCB researchers for a week on projects ranging from computer aided design of new medicines to actually making a medicine. Commenting on Work in Science Week, Lord Winston said, “Science is about finding things out and it has been clearly shown students can learn more from hands-on experiences with experiments rather than reading about them in textbooks. The Work in Science Week programme is a wonderful example of engaging students with science and engineering that will help to improve science literacy and encourage more young people to think about this as a possible career.”

As one of the UK’s leading pharma R&D investors, UCB believes that harnessing scientific innovation and moving to a higher level of R&D intensity is one of the keys to improving the UK’s future prosperity. But this relies on improving the flow of people into the economy who are educated in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Work in Science Week is part of UCBs drive to improve this flow and champion UK science. It is hoped that by bringing pupils out of the classroom to see the scale and technology of the medicine research and discovery process will spark their imagination and deliver scientific innovators of the future.

Speaking about Work in Science Week, Dr Neil Weir, Senior Vice President of Discovery at UCB and Chair of the ABPI Innovation Board said, Work in Science Week is just one example of how UCB is leading the way for the next generation of young UK scientists. As a science skills leader, UCB is committed to contributing towards skills development in the life sciences through a range of initiatives including industrial student placements and supporting PhD scientists at some of the UK’s top universities. We are working with the brightest and most enthusiastic talent to develop technologies that bring a significant contribution to the economy and improve the health of the UK’s population.”

To coincide with this year’s Work in Science Week, UCB announced the results of a new UCB survey1, which found that, despite great levels of pupil enthusiasm for science, 37% don’t have access to advice on the careers available in science. This lack of access to science careers advice and the fact that the UK ranks 42nd out of 144 countries in the quality of our mathematics and science education (behind countries like Costa Rica, Albania, Slovenia, and China)2 is an alarm bell for the UK and remedial action is needed if the British tradition of scientific breakthrough is to continue long into the future.

Other key survey results showed that:
·          Science was ranked as pupils favourite subject
·          76% of pupils rated science as exciting
·          67% of pupils registered an interest in studying a science degree
·          71% of pupils said that they might be interested in choosing a science-related career
·          86% of pupils preferred practical as opposed to desk-based science lessons.
Commenting on the survey results, Dr Neil Weir, concluded, “Currently, the UK is a world leader in science and technology with a fine heritage of producing high-level science graduates. However, the results of our survey together with the findings of the Global Competiveness Report suggest that this position could be at risk. School level experience of science is crucial to pupils’ aspirations and it influences future decisions. Companies like UCB have a role to play in providing careers advice and enthusing young people to become scientists of the future.”
1.     Survey data collected at Slough Aspire Careers Fair, February 2013 – Data on file
2.     World Economic Forum (2012). The Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013. Accessed from

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