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RCUK demonstrates positive impact achieved throughout 2014

Research Councils UK (RCUK) has today (19 January) published the RCUK Impact Report 2014, demonstrating how the Research Councils have worked together to achieve greater impact for the research, training and innovation they support.

Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of RCUK, said: “The UK research base is one of the best in the world and we should be proud of the impact it has both here and abroad. This year, our impact report reflects our vision that the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. Long-term investment in world-class research and innovation, and working together effectively and efficiently, will enable us to realise the full potential of the UK research and innovation ecosystem.”

The report complements the impact reports prepared by the individual Research Councils and highlights the ways in which RCUK adds value to their activities. It also looks forward to activities we are undertaking now that will have impact in the future, with details of some exciting developments for 2015.

Minister for Universities, Science and Cities Greg Clark said: “Britain’s world-class reputation in science is founded on excellence and these reports clearly demonstrate how long-term investment in science is having a positive impact on the economy and wider society. Developing the right skills, leadership and infrastructure for UK research is key to our long-term economic plan and lies at the heart of our Science and Innovation Strategy.”

Highlights in the report include:

  • celebrating 30 years of engaging with Europe through the UK Research Office (UKRO), which has been instrumental in helping researchers to leverage EU funding. This ensures that UK researchers have access to flexible funding opportunities, the best facilities and infrastructure, and comprehensive training and career support
  • continuing to support embedding public engagement in the higher education sector via the Public Engagement with Research Catalysts. This helps ensure that researchers are recognised for their public engagement and that the work of universities and research institutes is relevant to society and wider social concerns
  • delivering a single, harmonised system for collecting research outcomes to facilitate exploitation by businesses, the public and other researchers to deliver impact
  • leading the way on Open Access to research outputs to improve connections between research and innovation in policy, services, and economic growth and thus increase the returns on the investments made in research
  • our work with Innovate UK to develop our partnership, recognising the many benefits of working together beyond joint funding, to strengthen the UK research and innovation system
  • examining the impact of doctoral careers in depth, confirming the crucial role doctoral graduates play in delivering innovation and impact for UK business
  • the publication of Research & Business: a productive partnershipwhich demonstrates the commitment and value of the Research Councils and business working together to maximise impact.

Looking forward, we will be fostering a closer relationship with Innovate UK, progressing new and original ways of working together in order to accelerate the uptake of research for innovation and growth. The Research Councils will also be continuing to work to improve engagement between higher education institutions and Catapults to maximise the impact of funded research. We will continue to develop closer working across the Research Councils and have committed to undertake a review of the funding of both multidisciplinary research and the Cross Council Themes. This will help address barriers to innovation at discipline boundaries, and ensure that we are responsive and agile in responding to emerging priorities and challenges.

The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, published in December, included impact for the first time and highlighted the variety and quality of the impacts that UK research has made across the economy and society. The aligned strategies of the Research Councils and the UK higher education bodies have been a major driver in supporting the research community to deliver excellence with impact. The complementarity of investments by the Research Councils and the funding bodies through dual support enables a world-leading research base that attracts investment, businesses, researchers and students to the UK and creates jobs and economic growth. Dual support enables the UK research base to succeed and lead in a globally competitive research and innovation environment.

The REF team is today publishing all the material submitted by universities to the REF, including both information on research submitted and the REF impact case studies, on the REF website ( 

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Further information

Nicholas Turner
Press and Communications Manager
Tel: 01793 444592 or email: Nicholas Turner

Notes to editors

  1. The RCUK Impact Report 2014 is available on the RCUK website .

  2. Individual Research Council Impact Reports can be accessed through the following links:


  3. There are eight Public Engagement Catalyst grants that were awarded by RCUK to institutions to continue the work of the Beacons of Public Engagement, to ensure that researchers are recognised and rewarded for their public engagement. The funding is intended to act as a catalyst for culture change within institutions to help them embed public engagement with research within their policies, procedures and practices.

  4. Catapults are technology and innovation centres funded by Innovate UK and supported by RCUK where UK businesses, scientists and engineers can work side by side on research and development, transforming high potential ideas into new products and services. There are seven Catapults in the areas of High Value Manufacturing; Cell Therapy; Offshore Renewable Energy; Satellite Applications; Connected Digital Economy; Future Cities; and Transport Systems.

  5. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. We support excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK. To maintain the UK’s global research position we offer a diverse range of funding opportunities, foster international collaborations and provide access to the best facilities and infrastructure around the world. We also support the training and career development of researchers and work with them to inspire young people and engage the wider public with research. To maximise the impact of research on economic growth and societal wellbeing we work in partnership with other research funders including the Technology Strategy Board, the UK Higher Education funding bodies, business, government, and charitable organisations.

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

    • Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC);
    • Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC);
    • Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC);
    • Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC);
    • Medical Research Council (MRC);
    • Natural Environment Research Council (NERC);
    • Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

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