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R&D and Universities

24 Feb 2023

CaSE spoke to organisations representing groups of higher education institutions to understand the role R&D, innovation and technology play in engagement with the public around universities’ role in society.

Universities are ideally placed to act as the front-door to R&D for public audiences, and with more than 170 higher education institutions across the UK, there is much scope to build up local links.


  • Arc Universities Group
  • Eastern Arc
  • GW4 Alliance
  • Midlands Innovation
  • Million+
  • National Centre for Universities and Businesses
  • Russell Group
  • University Alliance
  • Universities UK
  • Yorkshire Universities

Key conclusions

  • Build on local connections by opening up universities and demonstrating local benefits. Universities should make the most of their large UK footprint to cement the idea that R&D is happening on people’s doorsteps, through open days or showing how R&D benefits the community.
  • Identify and support non-academic R&D champions. Making better use of different advocates for R&D will demonstrate the diversity of roles within the higher education research sector. Academics also need the right support so they can participate in public engagement.
  • Make stronger links between R&D and things that matter to the public. Universities have a wealth of research examples, but need to spell out how they benefit the public in clear and tangible terms. Using high-profile moments like major sporting events could help capture the public’s imagination.
  • Encourage cross-sector and local collaborations. To cut through, especially with new public audiences, messages about R&D and universities need to be consistent across the sector. Institutions should embrace ways to work together and draw in allies from outside their sector.

R&D and Universities

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