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Cross sector call for the UK to be a leading country in the G7 on R&D investment

26 Mar 2024

The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), in collaboration with 30 other leaders and representatives of the UK R&D sector, are issuing this joint statement calling for the UK to be a leading country in the G7 on R&D investment and stating our united position on the importance of R&D for the UK.

The UK should be a leading country in the G7 on R&D investment

We are united in a belief in the importance of ambitious, long-term, and sustainable investment in Research and Development (R&D) for the future of the United Kingdom. R&D is the foundation upon which the UK’s economic prosperity, well-being, and global competitiveness rest. A sustained increase in government R&D investment creates the stability to pursue big ideas, discoveries, and innovations that improve UK public services and make the world a better place for the next generation.

Such investment will instil confidence in the UK as a place to do business, drive growth, prosperity, and allow the UK to lead on the transition to net zero while tackling threats to health, wellbeing and quality of life across the UK. A majority of the public think that new research has a role to play in solving society’s challenges; 77% say new research is an essential or important part of solving the problem of climate change and 80% for securing the UK’s energy supply and lowering the cost of energy bills.

The UK should be a leading country in the G7 on R&D investment. We want to see political parties commit to investing in and nurturing a culture of research and innovation, ensuring the UK continues to attract private, philanthropic, and charity investment as well as the most talented researchers from around the world.

Statement Authors

Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE)  –  The Academy of Medical Sciences  –  Association of Medical Research Charities  –  The British Academy  –  CBI  –  Royal Academy of Engineering  –  The Royal Society  –  Russell Group  –  University Alliance  –  Universities UK  –  Wellcome

Other Signatories

AIRTO (Association of Innovation, Research & Technology Organisations)Biochemical SocietyBritish Ecological SocietyThe British Pharmacological SocietyThe British Psychological SocietyCancer Research UKFrancis Crick InstituteFraunhofer UKThe Institute of Engineering and TechnologyInstitute of PhysicsInstitute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)The Institute of ZoologyLifeArcMicrobiology SocietyNorthumbria UniversityThe Physiological SocietyRoyal Society of BiologyRoyal Society of ChemistryRoyal Statistical SocietyUniversity of Bradford

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Commenting on the statement

“Our organisations all share a belief in the important role R&D can play in society, driving growth, and improving people’s lives and livelihoods. This statement shows the unity we have as a sector and makes the case to policy makers for continued and sustainable R&D investment to make the UK a leading country in the G7. In an important election year, it is vital that we make a clear and compelling case for research investment that resonates with all of society.”

Dr Daniel Rathbone
Interim Executive Director, CaSE

“Universities spark opportunity and growth. R&D at our universities drives economic prosperity and improves lives across the breadth and length of the UK. We are united in calling on political parties to commit to an ambitious R&D investment. This will boost the UK’s international competitiveness and harness the power of our sector to address some of today’s and tomorrow’s biggest challenges.”

Vivienne Stern MBE
Chief Executive of Universities UK

“Research and innovation is fundamental to the UK’s economic growth and productivity, but investment cannot be turned on and off like a tap.

“We need an ambitious, long-term plan to maximise public benefits from technologies like AI and low-carbon energy, and prepare us for inevitable economic shocks.

“Now is the time to design a research and innovation system fit for the decades ahead and invest to make sure it becomes a reality.”

Sir Adrian Smith
President of the Royal Society

“With UK business consistently providing a substantial majority of overall R&D investment in the UK, it is crucial the UK government signals its longer-term ambitions with a new target for R&D spend for itself and the UK overall. Keeping government’s foot firmly on the accelerator for public R&D and innovation funding will position it as the vital partner to spur stronger business investment in R&D. Benchmarking an R&D target directly against other leading innovation nations will help ensure the UK keeps pace globally, and remains a favoured site for business R&D investment into the UK.”

Dr Benjamin Reid
Director of Technology and Innovation, CBI

“If we want to grow our economy and improve our quality of life for the long-term, we must invest in the research and new ideas that will drive the UK forwards. There is a real risk that if we fail to invest in research and development, we will fall behind our G7 peers economically and socially. We are pleased to stand united with other leading voices in research and development on this vital issue.”

Vanessa Wilson
University Alliance CEO

“We must not underestimate the potential of research, innovation and skills to deliver long-term growth and solve some of our biggest shared challenges. This potential can only come to fruition with sustained and robust funding, which will future-proof the UK’s research capabilities and bring us in line with other leading research nations. Collaboration is key, which is why we are joining our colleagues across the sector to highlight the many benefits R&D brings for the UK, and to call on politicians to prioritise research investment in this election year and beyond.”

Dr Tim Bradshaw
Chief Executive of the Russell Group

“Organisations from across the research sector are united in calling for strong and sustainable government funding for R&D. This would pay dividends – it would boost economic growth and productivity while unlocking benefits for patients. If the building blocks underpinning UK science are secure, charities can collaborate and invest with confidence.”

Louise Wren
Director of External Affairs at the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC)

“Right now, the UK is facing multiple great challenges, from the climate crisis to living with artificial intelligence, improving productivity to tackling health inequalities. Investing in research and development is key if we are to face these challenges. The work done by people in the fields of social sciences, humanities, and the arts plays a vital role in understanding societal challenges, and how to fix them – particularly in the services sector and in creative industries. The UK should match research and development spend with the most innovative and competitive economies around the world, delivering this funding in a long-term and sustainable way. This investment will yield enormous benefits for our society, environment, and economy.”

Hetan Shah
Chief Executive of The British Academy