R&D Taskforce report: Research to Recovery

R&D Taskforce report: Research to Recovery

To download the full report, see here: Research to Recovery

Taskforce web page sizedForeword, by Sam Laidlaw, Chair of NCUB and Chair of the Taskforce

Priorities, synergies, enablers.

2020 will be a year not easily forgotten. A pandemic that has affected every corner of the globe. This is also a year that brought the importance of collaboration between academia and industry into the public consciousness. Partnerships between universities and businesses have driven an unprecedented pace of progress in the development of a vaccine for Covid-19. Such a vaccine is only possible because of a translation of knowledge and cutting-edge ideas into products and solutions to real world challenges.

For many businesses in the UK, harnessing the power of research and innovation is critical to their future success. Some recognise this and invest year-on-year in research, however the vast majority of businesses in the UK do not invest in research and development (R&D) at all.

The R&D Roadmap, published by the Government in July 2020, set out an important and ambitious vision for a more research intensive, innovation-led economy. The R&D Roadmap is a critical intervention, which provides a positive and timely response to the distinct but cumulative changes driven by Covid-19, the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and our bold commitment to carbon neutrality.

Success will require change and collective action from the Government, universities, businesses and other central actors in our research and innovation system. To achieve the vision set out in the Roadmap, more businesses will have to invest more financial and human resources in R&D across the UK. How to achieve this is the fundamental question that lies at the heart of this report.

I am indebted to colleagues across industry and academia that have supported the work of the Taskforce and provided firsthand insights into the drivers, motivations and barriers to R&D investment in the UK.

As this report sets out, the opportunities from R&D are significant and if achieved could have a transformational effect on the UK economy. To deliver the ambitious R&D aspirations set out by the Government, all participants in the system need to collaborate. This report argues fundamentally that to succeed there is a need to prioritise efforts to seize strategic commercial opportunities, create synergies in the system, strengthen the enablers of the research and innovation system, and attract global investment.

I would like to express my gratitude to members of the Taskforce and Advisory Groups for their time, insights and contribution to this report. While there may have been differences of emphasis among Taskforce members, all have endorsed the content of this report and we hope it provides bold and ambitious recommendations for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) to consider in partnership with universities, business and the Government.

Published: 13 November 2020

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