By Jonathan Davies
Q is the character known and loved by James Bond fans for equipping 007 with the weird and wonderful gadgets he needs to get the job done.
But the real-life Qs aren’t able to keep up with the tech used by enemies because of red tape preventing private sector investment, according to a report by Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI).
The report found levels of under-investment in research & development in the sector, and that private businesses and investors are being discouraged from supporting R&D because of a lack of clear policy on the matter from the government. It also added that the natural secrecy surrounding security matters make it difficult for requirements to be discussed.
Calum Jeffray, a researcher at RUSI who co-authored the report, said: “There is a widespread belief that current levels of funding for R&D in this sector are insufficient.
“This is problematic in the area of national security where operational priorities often necessitate innovation that is fast and responsive to the needs of the security and intelligence agencies.”
Spending on R&D in the UK is roughly 1.7% of GDP, the report found. That compares with an average of 2.06% in Europe.
The report also suggests that falling spending on R&D could give “non-state actors” like Islamic State and Al Qaeda the advantage.
Mr Jeffray added: “Coupled with declining R&D spend, many are equally concerned by a decline in the ability of the security and intelligence agencies to keep pace with the rapid development of new technologies, driven by consumer demand and exploited by increasingly sophisticated adversaries.”