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CaSE and Wellcome’s new report on making the case for government investment

07 Jul 2020

CaSE and Wellcome have published a new report with Public First as part of our ‘R&D Decade’ project, looking at how the R&D community can best sustain political and public support for investment.

The report is the culmination of all the work carried out by independent policy specialists Public First for us about new models of advocacy for the research sector. To secure increased government investment, advocates across the research sector must make a fresh and compelling case to political leaders and the public.

Commenting on the report CaSE Executive Director Sarah Main said:

“For me, the opportunity of a more research intensive economy and culture offers improvements in wellbeing, quality of life and prosperity that would be felt individually and nationally. This report shows how active public support could sustain a transformation in research investment and realise its benefits.

The UK has a uniquely rich research and innovation system that is well-placed to deliver individual and national benefits of research investment. I am grateful to the many people across the R&D community who contributed to this work, and I hope the report will provide a starting point for conversations and collaboration across the sector.”

Ed Whiting, Director of Strategy at Wellcome:

“Today’s report sets out a clear challenge to those working to promote R&D in the UK. It tells us that justifying a transformational increase in R&D investment will require a long-term transformation in our advocacy too. 
This is already a hugely challenging time for those working in our charities and universities, but as we look to the future we’ll need to work together in new ways build an enduring and active base of public support. We’ll need to make the impacts of R&D less distant from the public, and we’ll need to raise the ambition of our advocacy to match the opportunities ahead.”

Luke Tryl, Director at Public First:  

“Producing this report has been an opportunity to work with campaigners across the R&D community, and beyond it. After hearing from them, and from the public directly, about what works, and what doesn’t, we’ve crafted four advocacy models for the R&D community to consider.   
Many campaigns would envy the strong starting point that R&D finds itself in, but this head-start shouldn’t distract the community from the next challenge – to amplify and build on this good work, to secure support for investment in R&D over the long term.”

About the report

The UK stands at the start of a decade where investment in R&D could increase by almost 50%. In the 2020 budget, the Chancellor announced that public R&D investment will increase to £22 billion per year by 2024-25. Through the ‘R&D Decade’ project, CaSE and the Wellcome Trust are exploring how advocacy will need to change between now and 2030 to sustain R&D as a political priority. 

As part of the project, we’ve collaborated with policy specialists Public First to review advocacy approaches taken by other sectors, host public focus groups and consolidate this evidence into a new report Advocating for R&D Investment. Among the findings, the report sets out four advocacy models that describe how the research community might work together more effectively:

  1. Build popular support for R&D investment through tailored, tangible advocacy delivered by a new generation of highly-trained community advocates.
  2. Build a stronger, authoritative voice through a new R&D think-tank, which is able to swiftly link R&D to emerging political ‘hot topics’.
  3. Mobilise vocal advocates for R&D investment through rallies, petitions and a network of grassroots activists willing to champion R&D as a priority.
  4. Build more central support and training to help R&D organisations tell their story to the public and politicians in the most coordinate and effective way.

About the project

The R&D Decade project also includes reviewing the existing literature on what makes a successful campaign, profiling other campaigns, identifying key tools for campaigning, and exploring the public’s attitudes to different types of advocacy