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Inventor James Dyson criticises government for obsession with glamorous web fads

08 Jan 2013
Inventor James Dyson

Renowned inventor James Dyson has criticised the government for being obsessed with glamorous web fads and video gaming rather than tangible technology that can be exported.

The inventor of the famous Dyson vacuum cleaner welcomed the government's willingness to make the UK a high technology exporter but said it had become distracted by the technology firms that make up Shoreditch's ‘Silicon Roundabout'.

Dyson's remarks follow last month's announcement that the government would splash out £50m on a regeneration of Silicon Roundabout to help continue the growth of the emerging tech start-up cluster.

In an interview with the Radio Times, Dyson also said he was concerned by the skills crises facing the engineering industry. There will be a shortage of 60,000 engineering graduates this year, he said.

"The government must do more to attract the brightest and best into engineering and science so that we can compete internationally," said Dyson.

"Twenty-six percent of engineering graduates do not go into engineering or technical professions. More worrying is that 85 percent of all engineering and science postgraduates in our universities come from outside the UK. Yet nine in 10 leave the UK after they finish their studies. British knowledge is simply taken abroad."

Dyson said engineering postgraduates need to be encouraged by more generous salaries.

He said it was "insulting" that graduates only earn £7,000 for postgraduate research placements.

In response to Dyson's remarks, a Department for Business, Innovation and Skills spokesperson said it is working closely with industry to look at various ways to support engineering in schools and universities.

"Applications for engineering courses at university have held up this year," they said.

"We have committed £3m to create up to 500 additional aeronautical engineers at Masters level over the next three years, co-funded with industry."

In October last year, The Royal College of Art Dyson Building, funded by the James Dyson Foundation announced it would house business incubator space for young designers and engineers in order to cultivate British invention.

Fledging creative ventures were given working space, industry mentors and access to angel investors to help commercialise their ideas.

Dyson was not available for comment.

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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