The UK is a world leader in medical research, with a vibrant research and innovation ecosystem in which public investment leverages significant charity and private investment.
However, we must not take this for granted.The UK invests a lower proportion of our national wealth in R&D than many other leading scientific nations. Therefore, the Academy believes that the UK should increase combined public and priavate investment in R&D to 3% of GDP.
To support this ambition, we seek to provide evidence of that demonstrates the societal and economic benefits of investing in research. For example:
"Every £1 invested in medical research delivers a return equivalent to around 25p every year, for ever."
Increasing overall investment in R&D is essential to keep the Uk at the forefront of medical research, but to deliver the full benefits of this investment we must ensure that the regulatory environment that facilitates high-quality studies and aligns with robust ethical principles.
“The Academy leads the way in bringing key players together, allowing different sectors to identify areas of common concern and to find a way to fix problems. The introduction of a better regulatory framework for health research has been a major boost to UK science and would not have happened without the hard work of the Academy.” Sir David Cooksey GBE FMedSci, Founding Chairman of The Francis Crick Institute
COVID-19 has put all parts of society under significant financial strain and the 2020 Spending Review is an opportunity to invest in the UK’s social and economic recovery. Supporting the life sciences will be crucial on both fronts: for improving patient outcomes and helping the NHS rapidly recover; to creating high-paying jobs and levelling up research infrastructure across the UK.
The full extent of these benefits will only be possible if the research landscape has long-term certainty. We have joined with charities, companies and other organisations across the life sciences sector to call for strategic investment in research over multiple years, so it can continue to help the UK recover from COVID-19. This includes:
- Bolstering the budgets of key research funding bodies, to help Government reach their goal of investing £22bn in research and development (R&D) by 2024/25
- Supporting charities through a significant drop in funding, so they can keep playing their essential role in the funding landscape
- Investing in the infrastructure and workforce that will make the UK a destination of choice for clinical research
You can read and download the full statement on the right-hand side of this page.
There is broad consensus across the political spectrum to increase total investment in UK research and development (R&D). The Government has committed to investing £22 billion in R&D by 2024 – 25 as part of a target of 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and 3% in the longer-term. A wide-ranging R&D roadmap has been published to help shape and deliver this agenda.
To deliver an overall increase in R&D investment, the UK needs to foster research and innovation throughout public services, universities and businesses, and attract global investment, incentivising companies to locate their R&D here. Only by doing this will we enable research and innovation to help improve the health and wealth of the country.
We have worked with the Royal Society, the British Academy and the Royal Academy of Engineering to outline the investment landscape in 2018, why £22 billion and the longer-term 3% target is important and factors that should be considered to deliver it.
The UK Government have committed to increase investment in research and development (R&D) in the UK to at least 2.4% of GDP by 2027. Delivering this will need significant increases in investment from both public and private sources. UKRI delivers the majority of public funding for research and innovation in the UK. It will play a central role in realising the UK Government’s ambition.
The national Academies have produced an explainer summarising UKRI’s structure, governance and operation to support discussion over how this funding is distributed.
The Academy is committed to facilitating a proportionate and streamlined system for the regulation and governance of health research.
We will continue to guide the implementation of recommendations contained in our report 'A new pathway for the regulation and governance of health research'. Working with other stakeholders, we will also seek to identify areas of regulatory uncertainties arising from scientific developments and ensure that any system changes are sufficiently future-proofed.
- Influencing the development of Health Research Authority through the Collaboration and Development Forum and monitoring the roll out of HRA Approval
- Contributing to the development of EU Medical Devices Regulation as they go through the legislative processes
- Monitoring the implementation of EU Clinical Trials Regulation and EU Data Protection Regulation
Establishing the HRA
Ahead of the UK general election in 2010 the Academy raised serious concerns that the UK regulatory environment was hampering research for patient benefit. As a result, the Government commissioned the Academy to undertake a comprehensive review of UK health research regulation. Based on over 300 written evidence submissions, the report laid out a regulatory overhaul to widespread support from researchers, funders and patients. Our review led to the establishment of the Health Research Authority in primary legislation, streamlining regulatory processes that had previously delayed research.
The Academy has continued to champion a proportionate approach to the regulation and governance of health research in areas such as clinical trials and medical devices, and to highlight where regulation aimed at preventing the misuse of drugs is hampering research into treatments for unmet need.
We work in partnership to provide evidence of the benefits of investing in research and innovation.
We jointly funded a series of evaluations of economic return from medical research. Together they show that every £1 invested in medical research delivers a return equivalent to around 25p every year, for ever. The most recent of these studies (jointly funded by Arthritis Research UK, Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council and Department of Health) examined the return on public and charitable investment in research into musculoskeletal conditions. A summary is available here and the full research paper is published online.
In addition, the National Academies recognise the need to better understand:
- the range of benefits that research and innovation bring to the UK
- the distribution of those benefits across the country and its population
- how those benefits are achieved
- how best to measure them
In order to address these questions, the Academies assembled a Steering Group to oversee the commissioning of two evidence syntheses to build the evidence base on the impact of investing in UK research and innovation.