The NCUB has written to the Prime Minister to urge him to protect funding for research and development in the Fiscal Statement next week.
The Government has already committed to spend £20 billion on research and development by 2024-25 and then £22 billion by the following two years. NCUB hopes that these promises will be honoured as university-business collaborations are vital in supporting growth in the UK economy.
Over the last few years, the UK has been tested by a weight of economic and societal challenges unseen since the middle of the last century. The Government now faces a set of difficult choices to restore the sustainability of our public finances while also aiming the UK economy towards a return to growth through a credible and positive economic plan.
A critical contribution to driving up living standards, to create new, better jobs for the British people, and to create the fiscal strength needed to fund world class public services is to leverage UK strengths in science and technology and supercharge innovation across the UK economy.
Skilled people and transformative ideas emerging from the UK’s world class universities play a critical role in leveraging private sector investment in innovation. Sustained and targeted public funding over the last 5 years has been successful in building strong strategic partnerships between industry and academia. We have carefully built the foundations for the next innovation revolution – evident through the rapid, collaborative development and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. These partnerships are primed not only to deliver against a positive economic vision, but to solve and even avert the looming health, energy and environmental crises that we face.
If we are to reap these rewards and realise the Government’s economic vision, then we must continue to support the UK’s research and innovation system by maintaining and then exceeding existing commitments to spend £20 billion on research and development by 2024-25 and then £22 billion by the following two years. As the economic gloom gathers, the Government has a chance to light a beacon towards a high-growth, innovation-led future. This is not a cost, but an astute and vital investment in the UK’s economic future and our leadership position on the world stage.
Sam Laidlaw, Chair, National Centre for Universities and Business
Joe Marshall, Chief Executive, National Centre for Universities and Business