After the Spending Review: what next for UK research and innovation?

The National Academies are hosting a series of four Policy Lab events over the coming months, to consider changes on the horizon for UK research and innovation after the 2015 Spending Review, as well as the longer term prospects for research in the UK.

The 2015 Spending Review delivered a broadly positive outcome for UK research and innovation, but the machinery which will deliver this funding looks set to enter a period of uncertainty. At the Spending Review, the Government committed to implementing the recommendations of the Nurse Review, and shortly afterwards a range of proposals for HEFCE were set out in a Green Paper on Higher Education Reform.

While the research community and policy makers are developing their views of what the future should look like, the Academies will be convening debates on some of the big issues through a series of public discussion events. Registration will be advertised through each event page.


Research at the heart of government: opportunities and challenges

18:30, Wednesday 23 March at the Royal Society.

The Nurse Review recommended the creation of a new ‘umbrella’ organisation, Research UK, to sit above the Research Councils, and the creation of a Ministerial Committee to facilitate engagement between policymakers and research funders. These structural changes might position research and innovation more centrally in government, something that the community has long called for.

The first event in the series considered the opportunities and challenges associated with this prospect. Will the research and innovation communities have a stronger voice in government decision making and economic policy? Will government start to play a stronger role in the direction of research and innovation priorities?

An audio recording of the event is available.


Building a better research system? Supporting excellence in post-Nurse structures

18:30, Monday 18 April at the British Academy.

The Nurse Review’s recommendations aim to “ensure a successful research endeavour”, and enable better strategic coordination of the system. With the government committed to implementing the Review, the research landscape now looks set to enter a period of significant change, as the way that research is funded and governed changes around it.

The second event in the series will consider how the excellence of the UK’s research base can be maintained through these changes, and built upon in the future. Which principles have underpinned the success of the current system? How can changes be implemented in a way that minimises disruption while a new system develops? How can the opportunities for greater collaboration and cross-disciplinary research be realised?

An audio recording is available.


What is the future of innovation support in the UK?

18:30, Wednesday 4 May at the Royal Society.

A number of changes to innovation support were set out at the Spending Review, including the conversion of some of Innovate UK’s grants to loans, increased funding for the Catapult Centres and long-term support for the automotive and aerospace sectors. The government has since announced that it will look to integrate Innovate UK into Research UK.

The third event in the series will look across the current landscape for innovation support in the UK, to consider the government’s approach as a whole, and what the future of innovation support could look like. As the UK’s innovation agency, what should the purpose and scope of Innovate UK be? What should a long-term plan for innovation include? How can innovation success be determined?

An audio recording is available.


UK research and innovation: visions for 2030

18:30, Monday 13 June at the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The first three events in this Policy Lab series address changes on the immediate horizon for research, but the final event takes a longer-term view. Each speaker will set out their vision for the UK research and innovation landscape in 2030, including what could be achieved and the policy changes that it would take to get there.

How can government build research and innovation into their long-term plans for the UK’s future prosperity? What challenges is the UK likely to face in future, and how we can build the UK’s research and innovation base to meet these changing demands?

An audio recording of the event is available, and the speakers have written blog posts to reflect on their thoughts.

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