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What Government support is available for research and innovation?

21 Sep 2018

Anne Barrett looks at how the Government is communicating its support for research and innovation

As a science policy intern, I have spent a lot of time over the last three months getting to grips with the Government’s recent commitments to research and innovation. It certainly seems as though the Government is making a lot of noise about maintaining the UK’s position as a global research and innovation leader.

In 2017 the Prime Minister announced the goal to increase total investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. This R&D investment contains both public and private investment. Given that the R&D investment has been 1.7% of GDP for the past few years, reaching this target will involve pumping huge sums into the scientific community, providing huge opportunity. When the Industrial Strategy was published, the Government reiterated their commitment to research and innovation by adding the target of investment in R&D reaching 3% of GDP in the long term.

Private investment will be key to reaching these targets, in 2016 this was more than double public investment. The Government needs to illustrate why the UK is an attractive place to invest in R&D. A number of different mechanisms already exist to support research and innovation. On top of direct financial support these include tax relief, networking and partnership opportunities, and market access advice, among others.

Whilst much is being done to support those across the academic, industry and business landscapes in their research and innovation, the Government could do a lot more to communicate the support available. This was a point that came up in recent CaSE roundtables with HM Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Details of available support exist in disparate web pages across Government websites that don’t link to each other. Unless you know what you are looking for a lot will be missed. It is not enough to just create these support mechanisms; the researchers, innovators and businesses they are meant for need to know about them, and be able to navigate the full spectrum of support easily. An R&D-intensive business interested in starting up, growing or investing in the UK should be able to clearly find what the UK has to offer. This information should be easily available, it shouldn’t require hours on Google or the recommendation of a scheme from a peer.

CaSE believes that the Government should create a digital ‘shop window’ that showcases in one place the many different incentives, funding, and initiatives for UK research and innovation support. This is not just a communications challenge, but also should spur functional improvement and join up across different parts of national and local government systems, messages, portals and opportunities. This one link could then be easily shared to direct people to the array of support available.

To illustrate the point, below is a table of web pages with details of Government support for research and innovation. These were pulled together with some existing knowledge and a few hours on Google, but this is most likely just a small selection of those in the Government ether. If you know of any more tweet @sciencecampaign to let us know!

PageGovernment Department, Body, or AgencySupport provided
Enterprise Europe NetworkHM GovernmentBusiness throughout Europe. Finance, commercialization, partnerships, market opportunities
KonferNational Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), UKRIAiding researchers in UK universities and research institutes find charity and business partnerships
Britain is Great Department for International TradeGuidance on international export
Great business HM GovernmentBusiness support within Britain. Finance, employment & skills, markets, regulation
Global innovation: what support is availableInnovate UKGuidance on the help you can get from Innovate UK to innovate and grow your business overseas
Schemes to help your business innovate and growDepartment for Business, Energy & Industrial StrategyGuide for companies investing in R&D. Information on the tax system, R&D grants, networking and loans
Why set up in UKDepartment for International TradeList of investment opportunities in different sectors, tax opportunities, financial support, and intellectual property considerations
Innovation CompetitionsInnovate UKList of funding from active Innovation Competitions
Finance and support for your businessDepartment for Business, Energy & Industrial StrategyList of finance and support for businesses
UK Science and Innovation NetworkDepartment for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy; Foreign & Commonwealth OfficeList of countries in the SIN and priority areas
R&D tax reliefHM Revenue & CustomsInformation on the different types of Corporation Tax relief available for companies that work on Research and Development
Defence and Security AcceleratorMinistry of Defence; Defence Science and Technology LaboratorySupport for innovations which can aid defence and national security.
Funding for development researchDepartment for International DevelopmentGuidance for organisations and researchers looking for information on funding opportunities in development research
TechNationDepartment for Digital, Culture & SportGrowth programmes to help tech startups compete globally to bring jobs, skills and higher productivity to the UK
Aerospace Growth PartnershipJoint industry/Government initiativeInitiatives to address challenges in the aerospace industry
Sharing in GrowthDepartment for Business, Energy & Industrial StrategySupport for the aerospace sector via concentrated training and development programmes to raise the capability of UK aerospace suppliers
Catapult CentresInnovate UKLinks to the different Catapult Centres that each detail how to work with them
R&D Guidance and RegulationHM GovernmentList of guidance for R&D across departments and bodies
Knowledge Transfer NetworkInnovate UKAids cross-sector collaboration and connects members with a network of business, academics and other innovation support providers
How to work with or sell to DstlDefence Science and Technology LaboratoryGuidance for industry, academia and other research organisations on working with DSTL
Business Innovation: what funding you can get and how to applyInnovate UKGuidance for business and academic organisations on Innovate UK’s funding competitions to test ideas and develop innovative products and services
Small Business Research InitiativeInnovate UKConnects public sector challenges with innovative ideas from industry, supporting companies to generate economic growth and enabling improvement in achieving government objectives
MRC Industry Collaboration Agreement (MICA)Medical Research CouncilMICA encourages and supports collaborative research projects between academic and industry researchers.
NERC Innovation FundingNatural Environment Research CouncilFunding for specific knowledge exchange activities including training, people and knowledge flow and networks; collaborative research with users; and commercialisation
NERC InnovationNatural Environment Research CouncilGuidance on current innovation activities and how businesses can engage with researchers
EPSRC InnovationEngineering and Physical Sciences Research CouncilPartnership opportunities and schemes
BBSRC InnovationBiotechnology and Biological Services Research CouncilResources to support innovation from bioscience research
STFC InnovationScience & Technology Facilities CouncilInnovation support mechanisms for academia and industry

Anne Barrett is a final year PhD student at the University of Manchester. She has taken time out from her PhD to do a three-month policy internship at the Academy of Medical Sciences.