RCUK welcomes the Innovation and Research Strategy
Research Councils UK (RCUK) welcomes today, 8th December, the Government’s new Innovation and Research Strategy. The strategy sets out the Government’s approach to boosting investment in innovation and enabling UK success in the global economy.
Professor Rick Rylance, Chair of Research Councils UK, commented: “The Research Councils and their research communities are a vital component in the UK innovation landscape. The Innovation and Research Strategy is important recognition of the contribution that research makes to growth. Through the research we fund; the infrastructure, both nationally and globally, we support; the talents we develop and help prosper; as well as the partnerships with business, industry and government that we forge on behalf of UK research; the Research Councils nurture innovation and the broad contributions of research to the growth and wellbeing of the UK.”
Research Councils provide a diverse and interlinked mix of contributions to innovation, including:
Funding cutting-edge research that has the potential to lead to innovative products, processes, services or policies which offer new competitive advantage or improved social and cultural benefit. The Research Councils’ research investment is a vital component in ensuring that the UK maintains a world-class research base that can act as the bedrock for entirely new and ‘game changing’ forms of innovation.
Contemporary research that develops understanding of the key issues that drive innovation and growth; the different types of innovation in public and private sectors; how the UK can secure benefits from the global innovation ecosystem; and provides a reflection on innovation and new technologies within a wider societal context. Such research provides evidence to inform both innovation policy but also helps businesses directly to innovate better and faster.
Bringing together interdisciplinary research teams from a range of research groups to explore some of the most pressing research challenges facing society. The Research Councils already support collaborative research in groups and consortia of research organisations through a range of mechanisms, but some institutions may be reticent about become involved in collaborative approaches because they do not recognise that the Councils can fund large, complex and multi-institutional research projects. To make clear that such collaborative approaches are welcomed, where they enable challenging new research to be undertaken, we will be working with the UK Funding Councils to develop and publish a clear principles-based Framework for the treatment and submission of multi-institutional bids.
Investing in research and innovation-led facilities and campuses, which make significant contributions to the UK innovation ecosystem, ensuring that research makes a variety of important impacts for the UK, thereby enabling economic growth, assuring national security, contributing to interactions with important international trading partners and supporting key economic sectors. The Research Councils recognise that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ and seek to support creative investment across all of the campuses to drive impact from innovation. Further investment will increase the potential to bring greater impact still from research for the widest possible benefit, national and internationally.
Building strategic partnerships with business and industry to ensure that companies benefit from open innovation through world leading UK research. For major companies and sectors the Research Council’s work together, holding joint strategic level discussions on priorities and innovation, for example with the Pharmaceutical, water, creative industries and energy sectors. The Research Councils are also actively engaging with business and industry to invest in the next generation of researchers through investment in doctoral training centres, CASE PhD schemes and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. We will also continue to work with the Technology Strategy Board, co-investing and fostering partnerships across business, industry and academia that generate innovation and commercialisation of ideas for economic growth.
Stimulating private sector innovation by helping the public sector to innovate by facilitating strategic partnerships with key government departments such as Department for Communities and Local Government, Home Office and Ministry of Defence. In addition, the Economic and Social Research Council with NESTA, will be initiating the Alliance for Useful Evidence. The Alliance for Useful Evidence will be an open access, virtual network to promote and support the cause of ‘useful evidence’ – evidence that is timely, comprehensive and clear – whilst stimulating the demand and use of such evidence in decision making. Beyond the Alliance will sit a wider initiative which will improve the public sector’s capacity to grow and diffuse new forms of innovation in public services so that public investment is focussed on what works.
Investing in innovative people ensure that there is a flow of people coming in to research careers as well as maximising the value to the economy of the 50% of postgraduate researchers who work outside of academia in, for example, in business, industry. This includes enhancing the opportunities and value of people and knowledge exchange between academia and the wider economy. We look forward to the outcome of the Wilson review to build on this further.
Increasing access to research findings and improving the connectivity between research knowledge and businesses. It is the view of the Research Councils that publicly funded research data are a public good, produced in the public interest, which should be made openly available with as few restrictions as possible in a timely and responsible manner to all communities, including business for innovation and growth. The Research Councils are pleased to underline their commitment to opening up access to research by providing funding to develop, along with other stakeholders in the community, the UK Gateway to Research.
Many Research Councils and their communities already share their data widely. Research Councils have had open access policies for publications in place since 2006, and are looking forward to making substantial progression towards increasing access and reuse. This will be achieved, in the short term, by more closely supporting existing requirements. In the longer term, working with the national working group led by Dame Janet Finch, we will be keen to look to implement sustainable methods that increase access and reuse of the research we fund. RCUK is also looking forward to the recommendations from the Royal Society Science as a Public Enterprise study.
In addition, engaging the public can improve the quality of research and its impact by widening research horizons and contributing to greater innovation and economic and societal benefits. RCUK also recognises that research challenges are global; many businesses are global; and many of our researchers have already encountered and addressed some of the barriers to international collaboration where multiple partners are involved, including around sharing and exploitation of Intellectual Property. RCUK is uniquely placed, encompassing the breadth of research interests and engaging a wide stakeholder community through Councils and expert groups, both nationally and globally, to help broker these partnerships. We will continue to promote the strength of our academic base in acting as a magnet for inward investment as we train the next generation of leaders globally and attract innovative businesses to collaborate in innovation in the UK.
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RCUK Head of Communications
Tel: 01793 444474 / 07971027335
Notes to editors
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 Councils, business, government, and charitable organisations. www.rcuk.ac.uk.
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).