The opportunity ahead of us

We stand at the cusp of what could be a transformational decade. The UK Government has committed to a major boost for R&D investment. If realised, public R&D spending will double to £22bn by 2024, and the UK will be investing 2.4% of GDP into R&D by 2027.  

Betting big on R&D is just one of many competing visions for the UK’s future, and the choices made today will define how we approach the challenges ahead – from climate change to an ageing population. As we set out to 'build back better' after the pandemic, we must put discovery at the heart of our recovery,  

With the UK trailing behind Slovenia, Iceland and a long list of other countries in our level of R&D investment, the Government’s current targets only serve to narrow the gap. To go further, we must move away from our reliance on a narrow base of political champions. We must find and appeal to a broader set of supporters among the public, communicating our cause in more tangible ways. 

The 'mission' of the Discovery Decade

We share the sector's ambitions to see R&D investment increase, but will be pursuing this in new and complementary ways. To attract new supporters we’ll need to: understand our audience, experiment with new ways to reach them, and find ways to work together as a sector. 

The Discovery Decade project will: 

  • Conduct research to better understand how different sections of the public relate to R&D investment and the role of R&D in their communities
  • Develop advocacy tools that can secure new supporters by identifying langiuage, themes and iconography which ignire a wider passion for R&D and its value
  • Road-test new ideas in partnership with the sector by sharing creative tasks and finding key moments where our sector could work together to achieve greater impact.

If we succeed, our sector will advance through the decade ahead with a broader and expanding base of public supporters. If we’re able to make a clear and compelling case for R&D being the right route for the UK to take, these supporters can help ensure that commitments to boosting R&D investment feel politically non-negotiable. 

This work builds on the CaSE-Wellcome joint R&D Decade project which reviewed the advocacy options of the sector over the last eighteen months.

Who's leading the project?

Appointed as Chair of the Discovery Decade project, Kim Shillinglaw is the former Controller of BBC2 and architect of the BBC’s Year of Science and Make it Digital campaigns. A long-standing champion for research and innovation, Kim has been a trustee at NESTA and EngineeringUK, sits on the board of the Raspberry Pi foundation, and is a Non-Exec Director at Natural Environment Research Council and Natural England. 

Appointed as Director of the Discovery Decade project, Ben Bleasdale will be spearheading the project’s team and its collaboration with the wider sector. He joins CaSE as a long-standing advocate for R&D investment, with previous roles at the Wellcome Trust, Academy of Medical Sciences and Medical Research Council.

Please get in touch with Ben to discuss any area of the project in more detail and how you can be involved.