Submission to the Science and Technology Committee (Commons) Inquiry: A new UK research funding agency

03 December 2020

Earlier this year the Russell Group responded to the Science and Technology Committee's inquiry on a new research funding agency, which asked about a new proposed agency's nature and purpose, and included the following questions:

  • What gaps in the current UK research and development system might be addressed by an ARPA style approach?
  • What are the implications of the new funding agency for existing funding bodies and their approach?
  • What should be the focus be of the new research funding agency and how should it be structured?
  • What funding should ARPA receive, and how should it distribute this funding to maximise effectiveness?
  • What can be learned from ARPA equivalents in other countries?
  • What benefits might be gained from basing UK ARPA outside of the ‘Golden Triangle’ (London, Oxford and Cambridge)?

Russell Group universities form a vital part of the research landscape in the UK and contribute globally. A new agency, broadly modelled on the USA’s DARPA, could drive the pull-through of disruptive innovations and address complex societal challenges. It also represents an important opportunity to drive engagement between academia, industry and other R&D partners. Entrepreneurial project managers could drive research forward and engaged customers, whether Government departments, business consortia or local authorities, should shape the direction of programmes to ensure success.  

The new agency will also wish to consider what steps it can take to support the development of a positive UK research culture this is especially important given the speed with which projects funded by ARPA could be cut if they fail to meet agreed milestones.

The full briefing contains the Russell Group's suggestions for key features of a new agency, and lessons we can learn from successes in other countries, such as DARPA. Find out more by downloading the PDF below:

A new UK research funding agency

Submission to the Science and Technology Committee (Commons)

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