In an able article upon Sir WILLIAM MCCORMICK's Report on five years' work of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The Daily Telegraph observes that “five years ago, when a twelvemonth of the war had compelled us to realise that winning it would be the hardest task ever laid upon the nation, a beginning was made with organised encouragement and assistance of research by the State. It had long been realised only too well by scientific workers that Great Britain was singular among the leading civilised countries in its obstinate neglect of this vital interest of a modern State; and the course of the war very rapidly brought all of us, and not only the savants, to a recognition of the fact that our principal enemy was foremost of all the Powers in the care which it had given to that interest. The army of technical experts mobilised by Germany for the scientific war was far larger and better equipped than our own. In setting‐out to remedy this state of things, the Government was looking, necessarily, far ahead of the war, which was likely to be ended one way or another long before the benefits of a Department of Scientific and Industrial Research could begin to materialise. Now, five years after the inception of the scheme by the Committee of the Privy Council, it is beginning to bear fruit; but the real harvest is in the not immediate future still. Sir WILLIAM MCCORMICK'S Report, however, as summarised yesterday in our columns, shows in its review of those five years’ work how well the foundations have been laid, and how excellent are the prospects of useful development along the lines now clearly marked out for the activity of the Department. Backwardness in the application of scientific research to industry has cost us dear in many ways. It is a reproach which is now in a fair way to be lifted from us altogether, thanks to that general awakening of the national intelligence of which the new Department was only one result; for its work would be of little avail without the active co‐operation of the industrial world. That is, as the Report brings clearly out, being given; and it will be given in increasing measure as time reveals the inestimable value of what can be done by combined enterprise, directed and fostered by the State. This is only one branch of the Department's work; but it is in this connection, perhaps, that the practical utility of it will be most generally appreciated. Eighteen associations of industrial firms have now been established, each association undertaking co‐operative scientific investigation of the problems of its particular industry; five more are about to be set up and to receive their licenses from the Board of Trade. Ten of the associations are actually at work, and the 2,300 firms organised in them have raised, in the first year, an aggregate income of nearly £40,000 to add to the contribution made by the Department out of the million fund granted by Parliament for the encouragement of such associations. That this expenditure on co‐operative research will be returned many limes over is not open to doubt; the value of it is written on every page of the history of Germany's colossal industrial development in the decades before the war, and it is, indeed, in great part the explanation of that development.
MCB UP Ltd
Copyright © 1920, MCB UP Limited