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Making the ‘R&D Decade’ a reality

18 May 2021

CaSE has secured a £1.1 million grant, “A new voice for R&D investment”, from the Wellcome Trust to build a campaign that can transform public support for R&D investment, as the next phase of its ‘R&D Decade’ project.  

The Covid-19 pandemic has only reinforced the need for R&D to play a far greater role in our economy and society. The Government has set ambitious targets for investment in research over the next five years. To ensure that these commitments become a reality in the face of competing pressures, it is vital that political support be backed up by public support for investing tax-payers money into R&D. 

Run by a new dedicated team within CaSE, the three-year grant will fund a campaign that can build on the findings of the joint CaSE-Wellcome R&D Decade project, looking to transform public attitudes and build a broad and lasting base of support for research funding across all disciplines and sectors.  

CaSE’s important work on policy and political advocacy will continue, with the new campaign running alongside and complementing that work. The grant will enable CaSE to hone the evidence, messages and techniques needed to build widespread public support for R&D investment and share best methods of working with others in the sector. 

Commenting on the announcement, CaSE Chair of Trustees Dr Bob Sorrell said: 

“I am really excited that CaSE has been able to secure this grant from the Wellcome Trust. It will allow CaSE to build on the previous ‘R&D Decade’ work, nurturing a groundswell of public support that will keep R&D investment high on the political agenda, alongside our other advocacy work.  

CaSE’s campaign aims to build an environment where R&D investment has a level of public support consistent with the critical role it plays in delivering innovative solutions to the global challenges the UK faces across multiple sectors.

The grant represents an exciting new chapter for CaSE, allowing us to do more by adding a new campaign of public advocacy work alongside our other areas of advocacy, bringing even greater value to our members and the wider sector. We look forward to working with all those who share our passion to make a strong and lasting case for R&D investment and create a bright future for the UK.”

Wellcome Trust Director of Strategy, Ed Whiting said: 

“Over the last decade, the UK has begun to see a slow upward trend in R&D investment. Yet, despite the disproportionate contribution that UK-based science makes to the world, our levels of investment lag behind other major economies. With the Government committed to doubling public R&D investment to £22bn, it is vital that our sector steps up efforts to see that target delivered, and ultimately spent well.

We’re delighted to support CaSE’s vision for securing this transformational investment in the UK’s R&D sector. Backed by CaSE’s deep expertise and strong network of members, this new campaign will be able to hit the ground running.

To deliver the £22bn target, this campaign will need to show how R&D investment improves everyone’s daily lives, and articulate why science is crucial for the UK’s future prosperity. With genomic sequencing, rapid testing and vaccine rollout continuing at pace, there could be no better time to make the case. Our campaigning will need to be relentless, focussed and long-term if we are to realise the transformational promise of the decade ahead.”

To provide strategic guidance to the project, CaSE is now recruiting for a Project Chair and Project Director to oversee the campaign.  

Commenting on the Project Chair and Project Director, CaSE Assistant Director Dr Daniel Rathbone said: 

To ensure the success of the campaign CaSE are seeking a highly experienced and credible leader with demonstrated political and campaigning experience to be the public face of the project. The appointee will work collaboratively with the sector, and the Project Director to set the strategic direction for the campaign.” 

For the initial stage of the R&D Decade project, CaSE and Wellcome collaborated with policy specialists Public First to review advocacy approaches taken by other sectors and consolidate this evidence into a report, Advocating for R&D Investment, which the grant will take forward. The report found that public support for R&D investment is broad but shallow, and recommends the sector adopt a much wider range of tactics to create a broader base of support. 

CaSE’s important policy work will continue across R&D investment, education and skills, and evidence in policy-making. The new campaign will run alongside and complement that work, adding a new plank of public advocacy for R&D investment. 

CaSE and Wellcome have written more about the launch in an article for Research Fortnight, on why R&D must be an issue for the doorstep, not just the manifesto.

CaSE is now advertising for a Project Chair (Deadline: 16th June) and Project Director (Deadline: 16th June)