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Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) with his important contributions to classical physics and mathematics.
England and Scotland were leading centres of the Scientific Revolution from the 17th century and the United Kingdom led the Industrial Revolution from the 18th century, and has continued to produce scientists and engineers credited with important advances. Some of the major theories, discoveries and applications advanced by people from the UK are given below.
The Airbus A380 has wings and engines manufactured in the UK.
The UK plays a leading part in the aerospace industry, with companies including Rolls-Royce playing a leading role in the aero-engine market; BAE Systems acting as Britain's largest and the Pentagon's sixth largest defence supplier, and large companies including GKN acting as major suppliers to the Airbus project. Two British-based companies, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, ranked in the top five pharmaceutical companies in the world by sales in 2009 and UK companies have discovered and developed more leading medicines than any other country apart from the US. The UK remains a leading centre of automotive design and production, particularly of engines, and has around 2,600 component manufacturers. Investment by venture capital firms in UK technology companies was $9.7 billion from 2010-2015.
Scientific research and development remains important in British universities, with many establishing science parks to facilitate production and co-operation with industry. Between 2004 and 2012 the UK produced 6% of the world's scientific research papers and had an 8% share of scientific citations, the third- and second-highest in the world (after the United States' 9% and China's 7% respectively). Scientific journals produced in the UK include Nature, the British Medical Journal and The Lancet.
Britain was one of the largest recipients of research funding from the European Union. From 2007-13, the UK received EUR8.8 billion out of a total of EUR107 billion expenditure on research, development and innovation in EU Member States, associated and third countries. At the time, this represented the fourth largest share in the EU. The European Research Council granted 79 projects funding in the UK in 2017, more than any other EU country.
^Watt steam engine image: located in the lobby of into the Superior Technical School of Industrial Engineers of the UPM (Madrid)
^J. Gascoin, "A reappraisal of the role of the universities in the Scientific Revolution", in David C. Lindberg and Robert S. Westman, eds, Reappraisals of the Scientific Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), ISBN0-521-34804-8, p. 248.
^Alexander Graham Bell, born and raised in Scotland, made a number of inventions as a British citizen, notably the telephone in 1876; he did not become an American citizen until 1882, and then spent the remaining years of his life predominately living in Canada at a summer residence.