Science and Innovation Strategy

17 December 2014

Commenting on the new Science and Innovation Strategy, Dr Wendy Piatt, Director General of the Russell Group, said:

“We are encouraged by the Government’s assurance that science and innovation are at the heart of its long-term economic plans. Confirmation the Government is committed to supporting research excellence and maintaining the dual support system is very positive.

“We welcome the ongoing commitment to funding and support for science, research and innovation and appreciate the restated promise to invest £5.9 billion in science capital from 2016 to 2021. The Government is right to say that capital investment alone is not sufficient to ensure our research infrastructure continues to deliver world class outputs. Adequate long-term resource funding for the UK’s science base, and for basic research in particular, is critical. We also welcome the focus on how best to strengthen the relationship that allows industry to share the long-term strategic needs of their business with the UK’s world-leading researchers. As the REF results will show, the UK has outstanding stories to tell on translating research excellence into economic, social and other impacts and this in turn attracts further investment.

“We’d like to remind Government of how important HEIF and proof of concept funding are in the commercialisation chain and that enhanced funding here would make a real difference. The current shortage of proof of concept funds is a real barrier to greater innovation. It has created the so-called ‘valley of death’ when researchers have a great idea to commercialise their research but can’t access funds to bring that idea to life and to a stage where they can seek business investment. 

“We look forward to receiving more details on the government’s plans for resource funding at the 2015 Spending Review. It’s critical that new scientific infrastructure is sufficiently resourced without undermining other forms of research.

“The announcement that the Government will develop a new dedicated platform to match female STEM graduates to return to jobs in industry following career breaks is important as this may be helpful in addressing the gender imbalance in STEM careers.

New work streams

“The Research Councils’ support for responsive-mode funding is essential to the UK’s success, helping our universities to compete internationally and ensuring we can lead the world in pioneering research and innovation.

“We hope the new review of the Research Councils recognises the importance of their role in funding outstanding, independently-assessed, curiosity-driven research with far-reaching impact.

“The announcement that the Government is to examine how to ensure R&D spending by departments is properly prioritised against other capital investment spending is welcome. Our world-class universities already have many constructive links across the public sector and there is an opportunity for Government to support these links even further.”

Notes to Editors

  1. With 1% of the global population and 3% of global funding for research, the UK produces 16% of the world’s most highly-cited articles – of which three quarters are produced by Russell Group researchers.
  2. The UK’s spending on research and development as a proportion of GDP fell from 1.78% in 2011 to 1.73% in 2012. This is well below the EU average of 1.98% in 2012 (up from 1.95% in 2011), the spending of 1.98% by China (up from 1.84% in 2011) and the US investment of 2.79% (up from 2.76% in 2011). Source
  3. Our report, Jewels in the Crown, sets out how leading research-intensive universities have the critical mass of research to generate huge impact, link the UK into global knowledge networks, attract investment and exploit technological breakthroughs for economic success.
  4. Read our reports on the economic and social impact of research in Russell Group universities.

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