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Datasets to be explored to increase the UK's global competitive advantage in research and innovation


In a report published today, a wide range of datasets across the research and innovation landscape have been identified and described, setting out a plan for exploiting these to their full potential to help maintain and develop the UK’s excellence in research and innovation.

The UK Knowledge and Research Landscape: A report on available resources is the first step in refining and bringing together datasets that can be used and exploited further to inform strategic  decision-making and enable funders to identify how future funding could be targeted to achieve the best value for money. This will produce robust evidence to support the case for appropriately-resourced research and innovation in the UK. In order to exploit areas where the UK could have increased global comparative advantage, we need to improve the UK’s capability to identify where existing and emerging research excellence can be coupled with innovation strength.

Professor Jane Elliott, Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Chair of the High-level Landscape Mapping Group leading the project, said: “Everyone in the UK scientific community - across UK Government, regional stakeholders and innovative businesses - stands to gain from better use of data to inform our decision-making. This report is the first step in strengthening collaboration between key partners and stakeholders, so that together we can build a robust evidence base to inform future investment.

The report - produced by the High-level Landscape Mapping Group made up of representatives from the Research Councils, other research funders and data owners including Innovate UK and HEFCE - provides a short guide to the main existing datasets and how they could be developed in the future, along with the challenges in using them. It sets out the next stage in this collaboration, including the development of a five-year plan with the following initial practical objectives:

  • Establishing a single portal providing access to existing datasets, and providing potential users information to help direct them to the most relevant data
  • Encouraging the use of tools like ORCID, which facilitate linking individual researchers to their outputs without manual input of information
  • Making clear the limitations of existing datasets and giving users guidelines on what can and can’t be done with the data
  • Sharing best practice to improve user interfaces to databases. The aim is to facilitate extraction and visualisation of information including the use of maps, cartograms and infographics. 

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Further information

Katie Clark
Tel: 01793 444387 or email: Katie Clark

Notes to editors

  1. The report is available at:  

  2. The report was developed by the High-Level Landscape Mapping Group, which brings together organisations across the knowledge and research landscape through the desire to ensure that current datasets documenting capability and investment in UK’s research and innovation were fully exploited and made more accessible to a wide range of stakeholders.

    Member organisations are:

    • The UK Research Councils
    • The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
    • Innovate UK
    • Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
    • Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)
    • Intellectual Property Office (IPO)
    • The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN-UK)
    • GO Science
    • Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO)
    • Met Office
    • Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

  3. Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils. Our collective ambition is to ensure the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business. The Research Councils are central to delivering research and innovation for economic growth and societal impact. Together, we invest £3 billion in research each year, covering all disciplines and sectors, to meet tomorrow’s challenges today. Our investments create new knowledge through: funding research excellence; responding to society’s challenges; developing skills, leadership and infrastructure; and leading the UK’s research direction. We drive innovation through: creating environments and brokering partnerships; co-delivering research and innovation with over 2,500 businesses, 1,000 of which are SMEs; and providing intelligence for policy making. Find out more about our work at

    The seven UK Research Councils are:

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