How we influence and inform policy
By influencing and informing policy, we can help the research that we and others fund have as much impact as possible.
We work with a wide range of partners – including governments, research funders, learned societies, charities and commercial organisations – in the UK, Europe and globally.
On this page
Why it’s important
We also lead discussions about how to improve the world’s ability to respond to health challenges, such as drug-resistant infections and epidemics.
The research that we fund can have a direct impact on policy – for example, by informing guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO) or the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).
What we’re doing
Improving the research environment
To support research we:
- inform the government’s plans for science and innovation, promoting research careers and championing investment in cutting-edge science facilities and equipment
- work to influence research legislation to make sure it’s proportionate, safe and effective
- encourage an effective environment for the adoption of innovative ideas
- aim to improve the way research is carried out, eg by ensuring data sharing and good research practice.
Our focus has traditionally been on improving UK research.
Over the past five years we’ve also been focusing on policy at the European Union (EU) level. EU legislation and research funding programmes have a big impact on how research is done in the UK.
Advising on global health challenges
We advise on policies affecting global health challenges.
- Drug-resistant infections – by proposing actions that can be taken to tackle the problem internationally.
- Epidemics – for example, calling for all research data gathered during public health emergencies, like the Zika virus outbreak, to be made available as rapidly and openly as possible.
- Climate change – by making sure that health is included in international negotiations, such as COP21, and building understanding of the complex links between the environment and human health.
The work of the researchers we fund can influence policy guidelines.
- We’ve provided long-term funding to establish and support researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Mitochondrial Research who pioneered the mitochondrial donation technique. We’ve driven legislative change to ensure this cutting-edge technique can be used in clinics for the benefit of patients.
- We’ve funded research into how to optimise the use of artemisinin-based therapies to treat severe malaria. This work has informed the World Health Organization’s management guidelines.
We support the International Network for Government Science Advice, a new initiative to help:
- researchers to engage more with governments
- governments to understand more about how to interpret and apply scientific advice, particularly in low and middle-income countries.
In April 2016, the Alliance for Useful Evidence and the What Works Centre for Wellbeing published a report, Using evidence: what works, which we part-funded. It explores how to enhance the use of research in policy-making.
Influencing education policy
We’re committed to making inspiring, high-quality science education available to all young people.
- supporting schools and educators to deliver engaging science lessons and experiences
- funding research to inform and improve science education
- advocating for policy change.
Influencing policy that affects charities
We advise on the operating environment for charities in the UK, including charity tax regulations.
Science policy affects a broad range of issues, ranging from data sharing and gene editing, to intellectual property and regulation.
Regulation creates an environment where research and innovation can flourish.
The UK has a world-leading research environment.