Where the excellence of our research base and businesses coalesce, we see the greatest expression of what they are capable of together – and that, put simply, is setting the direction of our future economic ambitions.

This State of the Relationship Report is more than a statistical barometer of the health of partnerships between industry and academia. Through its intellectual curiosity, it approaches many of the key issues at the heart of the Government’s aspirations for university-business collaboration.

Indeed, achieving these stated ambitions will require deep and intrinsic linkage with the higher education and industrial communities. The demands of our modern Industrial Strategy permit no less.

And with UKRI taking root over this past year and beginning to unlock the opportunities of closer association between its component parts, we see how bringing together the ideals of knowledge creation and economic and social impact can realise immense benefits.

As the Minister chiefly accountable for delivering on our commitment to increase investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, I am deeply aware that there are many moving parts to this aim. But amongst the most critical is the excellent research emerging from our institutions and innovative businesses, and the agility with which each can cross-pollinate and fully realise these ideas. Supporting this activity – and ensuring a free flow of talent and investment – is a responsibility I feel keenly.

We will also continue to support the international collaborations which we, as a nation, have led from the front: not just ensuring the flow of funding to support excellent, internationally mobile research and development; but continuing to create the conditions which make such partnerships fruitful and rewarding in their own right.

And we are committed to doing all we can to uplift productivity across the country; as we see modelled in the deeply civic engagement set out in so many of the case studies in this report: universities, local actors and business communities coming together to align priorities and create opportunities for widespread success.

This Report is a valuable piece of the puzzle for those of us tasked with the responsibility of creating the conditions for fruitful collaboration. But more than that – it animates what those collaborations really mean, what they produce, and how they come to be. It is in this insight that this State of the Relationship Report comes to life, and through the valuable work it captures that the future of our economy will be shaped.

This article first appeared in the 2019 State of the Relationship report published 19 June 2019.