Government investment in research
Government investment plays an important part in supporting scientific excellence in the UK.
On this page
UK science relies on government investment to:
- support cutting-edge research, facilities and equipment
- attract highly skilled researchers
- encourage international investment from charities and industry.
We want this investment to continue, and we welcome cross-party support for investing 3% of the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in research and development.
What we're doing
Last year, we spent around £880 million in the UK to support world-leading research.
Strategic institutional support for research
Strategic institutional support is awarded to UK universities by funding councils in each of the four nations. This investment forms part of the UK’s unique dual support system, which provides a mix of block and grant funding to universities.
The funds can be used in a variety of different ways, for example to support interdisciplinary research, career development for academic staff, or the forging of new partnerships.
Through a series of case studies, we demonstrate how this funding has helped research thrive in universities across the UK. Read: Empowering UK universities: how strategic institutional support helps research thrive [PDF 1.2MB].
Research and the European Union
The EU is a significant source of funding for UK researchers. Between 2007 and 2013 it provided €6.1 billion to support them.
As the UK renegotiates its relationship with the EU, we're working to secure the best possible future for UK research. Read more about our position on Brexit and the EU.
Economic benefits from research
We’re exploring the economic returns that come from investment in medical research in our series of 'What’s It worth?' reports. So far, these have looked at:
- musculoskeletal disease: final report and key findings [PDF 149KB]
- cardiovascular disease: final report [PDF 2.1MB] and key findings [PDF 239KB]
- cancer: final report and key findings [PDF 335KB].
Reforms to UK scientific research
In April 2017, the Higher Education and Research Act became law. The legislation sets out substantial changes to the structure and governance of UK scientific research and higher education.
We worked closely with parliamentarians and policy makers during the development of the legislation. Now we’ll monitor its implementation, including the establishment of the new UK Research and Innovation body, to make sure it delivers on its promise to:
- protect the UK’s dual support system
- strengthen support for cross-disciplinary research.
Charity Research Support Fund
We’re working with other medical research charities to make sure that the Charity Research Support Fund (an essential source of government investment that ‘tops-up’ charity funding) is protected and increased in line with recent growth in charity investment.
- In March 2017, we responded to the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s consultation [PDF 292KB] on the Research Excellence Framework.
- In April 2015, we responded to the Nurse Review of Research Councils [PDF 274KB].
- Ahead of the government’s 2015 Spending Review, we led a coalition of almost 200 companies, charities and investors calling on the government to maintain its investment in research.
If you have any questions, contact Ben Bleasdale