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Building on Scientific Strength

29 May 2019

This policy report sets out CaSE’s recommendations on how the Government can stimulate a rise in the UK’s research intensity, in line with its target to increase the amount invested in research across the economy from 1.7% to 2.4% of GDP.

CaSE sets out actions the Government should take on public R&D investment; creating an attractive environment for private R&D investment and actions needed on people and skills. CaSE has designed these recommendations based on views gathered from its members through a series of roundtable events and one-to-one interviews from February 2018 to March 2019. They represent views gathered through discussions with members, R&D stakeholders and officials on the barriers to and enablers of raising R&D activity towards the 2.4% goal.

Alongside this briefing we are setting out a vision for what increased research intensity can achieve for the UK economy, people’s lives and their health and wellbeing by publishing a series of thought pieces by CaSE members and stakeholders on our website, as well as further analysis.

Report Summary
Science and innovation are essential to solving challenges facing Government and citizens. Concerted and coordinated action from Government is needed to capitalise on the UK’s strength in research and development (R&D) to ensure the nation benefits from their potential.

The Government has set a target to increase the UK’s research intensity by approximately a half over 10 years, increasing the amount invested in research across the economy from 1.7% to 2.4% of GDP. This welcome ambition is shared by political parties across Parliament. CaSE commend the Government for setting out a long-term ambition for increasing investment in R&D. It is in line with calls CaSE and others have made so that the UK can meet the economic, health, security and environmental challenges facing society. 

Meeting this target will require ambitious and coordinated action from Government, nurturing a strong platform for R&D, and using all the levers available to amplify the benefits of R&D.

We have outlined scenarios in which public investment in R&D does not reach the levels we recommend, and the consequences of this shortfall in investment illustrated by falling behind the Government’s target.

Key Recommendations

Increase public R&D investment

  • Create a vision with a plan and budget that attracts cross-Government support and global R&D attention
  • Sustain the unique breadth of the UK’s academic science base
  • Grow R&D capability by investing in infrastructure

Incentivise private R&D investment

  • Package the UK’s innovation offer simply and with greater appreciation of business needs
  • Support start-ups
  • Use the power of Government procurement to adopt innovation faster
  • Update R&D tax credits to help make the fiscal environment for R&D internationally competitive

Invest in people and skills

  • Grow the talent pool for R&D by widening diversity, training more researchers and attracting overseas talent
  • Strengthen provision for careers guidance and education

Building on Scientific Strength

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