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Press briefing: Research and Business


Welcome to the Research Councils UK (RCUK) press briefing about research and business. On this page you will find various pieces of information about the important of research and business working together in partnership to the economic recovery and wellbeing of the UK.

The strength and reputation of the UK research base attracts business and industry from around the world and RCUK works in partnership with over 2,500 businesses.

UK researchers work with some of the biggest global names in business including Samsung, Siemens, GlaxoSmithKline, Boeing, the BBC and Rolls Royce. By pioneering world-class research the UK stands out as a centre of excellence. National and international companies are increasingly seeking opportunities to work with the best researchers in the UK.


Romesh Vaitilingam, author of report: “Research for our Future: UK business success through public investment in research”:
“The UK research base is proven to be one of the best in the world and this reputation for quality has had a direct impact on the economic prosperity and social wellbeing of the UK. However, the UK cannot afford to be complacent as more and more countries see the benefits and return on investment in research, seeking to stimulate their own economies and world research standings.”

Professor Dave Delpy, RCUK Impact Champion:
“The UK has long been a nation that leads research innovation and this is the key competitive advantage we must preserve. It is vital that we continue to produce the best in academic research that has an impact on us all and attracts the best business and industry from around the world to these shores.”

Stephen Bold, Managing Director of Sharp Laboratories of Europe:
“By far the biggest benefit we receive (from UK universities) is a supply of excellent researchers working here (Sharp Laboratories). Over the last 10 years we have more than doubled the annual inward investment from Japan to the laboratory and that depends completely on recruiting excellent researchers.”

Rowan Douglas, Chairman of the Willis Research Network:
“The sustainability of our industry is crucially dependent on long-term, cutting-edge research. Investment in long-term research is also key to the UK’s ability to maintain a competitive global advantage.”


Watch a video about the value of research to business and industry which features interviews with Romesh Vaitilingam, author of the report “Research for our Future”, Professor Dave Delpy, RCUK Impact Champion, Professor Jonathan Haskel, Professor of Economics at Imperial College London Business School and Dr Ammon Salter, Research Director of the UK Innovation Research Centre.

You can watch the video here

A transcript of the video is available on request from:

RCUK Publications

Research for our Future: UK business success through public investment in research
Written by leading economist Romesh Vaitilingam, this report presents the case for UK research and why it is so vital for our future prosperity. It includes submissions from leading business and industry and examines why they choose to work in partnership with British researchers.

Impacts: Achieving investment in UK research through partnership
This publication is the fourth in a series of RCUK publications highlighting the impacts of research. It includes examples of successful partnerships between researchers and business and the impact these relationships have had of the economic and social wellbeing of the UK.

Productive Economy Timeline
This timeline explores the legacy of research by charting the various discoveries of researchers that have had a direct impact on the productivity of the UK economy.

Facts and figures

Value of RCUK funded research:

  • Estimates of the impact of RCUK spending on the UK’s national output suggest that a cut of £1 billion in annual spending would lead to a fall in GDP of £10 billion (Haskel and Wallis, 2010).
  • In July 2010, RCUK has partnerships with 17 of the top 20 FTSE 100 companies. The total contribution to just EPSRC from these companies is £52 million.
  • In the last three years, almost £1 billion of inward investment can be directly linked to RCUK efforts to attract international funding into UK research.
  • Game theory research resulted in £22.4 billion to government from 3G licence sales, equivalent to 2.5% of GNP, or enough to build 400 hospitals.
  • New LED technology for lighting will cut carbon emissions by 23 million tonnes and slash household lighting bills by 25%

Value of research and business:

  • Patents granted to UK universities increased by 136% between 2000 and 2008.*
  • University spin outs employed 14,000 people in 2007/08 and had a turnover of £1.1 billion.*
  • In 2007 British companies spent 1.14% of GDP on research and development while in the US the figure was 1.9% and in Germany 1.8%.*

*Statistics taken from ‘The Scientific Century: securing our future prosperity’

Further reading

Public Support for Innovation, Intangible Investment and Productivity Growth in the UK Market Sector, Jonathan Haskel and Gavin Wallis
The findings of this report support the case for sustained in investment in research by highlighting the exceptionally high rate of return on investment achieved by RCUK funded research. A full copy of the report can be found here

The Republic of Engagement: Exploring UK academic attitudes to collaborating with industry and entrepreneurship
This report explores changes in the way academics engage with industry in the UK between 2004 and 2009. It documents how academics perceive working with industry and explores how academics manage and integrate these activities with their research. A full copy of the report can be found here

The Scientific Century: securing our future prosperity
This report from the Royal Society sets out the case for sustained investment in research by citing examples of success research/business partnerships. A full copy of the report can be found here

Absorbing Research: the role of university research in business and market innovation
This report from the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) confirms that UK research has an important role in contributing to economic impact through supporting the business innovation process. A full copy of the report can be found here

The economic impact of research conducted in Russell Group universities
This report is based on research conducted in Russell Group universities and looks at a wide range of economic impacts from spin-out companies and collaborations between these universities and business. A full copy of the report can be found here

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