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Partners in innovation

Through RCUK, the seven Research Councils are able to act as one in their relations with the wider world. This provides a simple interface to facilitate access to the work of the Research Councils and is particularly effective for engagement on cross-cutting issues with key partners such as other funding agencies, government departments and intermediary or representative bodies. This also helps to ensure that we have good join-up across the funding and innovation landscape.


Our joint working with Innovate UK (formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board) has continued to grow and mature over the past year. All Research Councils and Innovate UK are now actively engaged in a range of joint activities as well as at the RCUK level to share best practice. We are continuing to build on this and identify new opportunities to collaborate. By working together, we can link the outcomes of Research Council investments to the businesses that can apply them and act as a channel for directing business challenges to the research base. Find out more about our partnership with Innovate UK, including our ways of working and achievements. 

We have a vast range of partnerships with business to ensure the outputs of the research and training we support are fully exploited. Read more about the Research Councils working with business


By working with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and the other UK funding councils, we ensure that barriers to delivering impact are minimised, our policies on impact are aligned and to ensure efficiency within the higher education sector. We work particularly closely with HEFCE to support the development of world-class skills amongst research staff through Vitae. Across the dual support system, the Research Councils and UK funding councils are committed to supporting excellent research and to realise the importance of impact. Research Councils require academics to consider the future impact of research at the point of applying for funding. The funding bodies, in context of the REF, assesses the historic evidence of impact. All funders have a common understanding of the importance of societal and economic impact, as well as academic impact. 


Government departments benefit considerably from partnerships with the Research Councils - for policy advice and development, delivery of research programmes, or the underpinning knowledge base that the Councils support. Our co-funding with government departments is around £500 million each year. Government departments provide match-funding of a similar scale. We are sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and have close relationships with a number of departments including the Ministry of Defence (MOD), Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department for International Development (DFID). 


We work with other UK representatives abroad to strengthen the UK presence overseas and to further exploit and disseminate the impact of research. We have overseas teams in China, India, the United States, and in Brussels through the UK Research Office (UKRO) to strengthen relationships with international government departments, funding agencies and other organisations. The opportunities for collaboration and exploitation of UK R&D are now reaching a much wider audience. Read more about our international work.

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