Russell Group supports cross-sector call for the UK to be a leading G7 nation on R&D investment

26 March 2024

The Russell Group is joining The Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), and other key representatives from the research and development sector, in calling for the UK to be a leading country in the G7 for R&D investment. 

In a joint statement published today, sector leaders also highlight the importance of R&D for the UK’s growth, economic prosperity and societal wellbeing: 

Joint statement: The UK should be a leading country in the G7 on R&D investment

We are united in a belief in the importance of ambitious, long-term, and sustainable investment in Research and Development (R&D) for the future of the United Kingdom. R&D is the foundation upon which the UK’s economic prosperity, well-being, and global competitiveness rest. A sustained increase in government R&D investment creates the stability to pursue big ideas, discoveries, and innovations that improve UK public services and make the world a better place for the next generation. 

Such investment will instil confidence in the UK as a place to do business, drive growth, prosperity, and allow the UK to lead on the transition to net zero while tackling threats to health, wellbeing and quality of life across the UK. A majority of the public think that new research has a role to play in solving society’s challenges; 77% say new research is an essential or important part of solving the problem of climate change and 80% for securing the UK’s energy supply and lowering the cost of energy bills. 

The UK should be a leading country in the G7 on R&D investment. We want to see political parties commit to investing in and nurturing a culture of research and innovation, ensuring the UK continues to attract private, philanthropic, and charity investment as well as the most talented researchers from around the world. 

Visit the CaSE website for a full list of authors of the joint statement. 

Today’s statement echoes the Russell Group’s previous calls for R&D to be prioritised for ambitious, sustainable funding – in turn, harnessing the research skills and innovative thinking within our universities to create a green, healthy and economically resilient future for the UK. Longer-term commitments on public funding of R&D would also help to leverage significant private investment across the UK, enabling universities to form effective partnerships and innovation clusters to accelerate research capabilities.  

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, commented: 

“We must not underestimate the potential of research, innovation and skills to deliver long-term growth and solve some of our biggest shared challenges. This potential can only come to fruition with sustained and robust funding, which will future-proof the UK’s research capabilities and bring us in line with other leading research nations. Collaboration is key, which is why we are joining our colleagues across the sector to highlight the many benefits R&D brings for the UK, and to call on politicians to prioritise research investment in this election year and beyond. 

Following the recent Spring Budget, which stopped short of putting R&D front and centre in the Chancellor’s plans for growth, the Russell Group continues to call on Government to galvanise the UK’s research and innovation pipeline by taking steps including: 

  • Committing to a long-term funding strategy that sees at least 3% of GDP invested in R&D by 2030. 

  • Strengthening the UK’s research base by protecting UKRI’s share of R&D funding and, within this, UKRI’s core research budgets. 

  • Advancing net zero ambitions through capital investments that improve the efficiency of university estates and enable the testing of net zero infrastructure solutions.   

  • Scaling up proof-of-concept funding for new, cutting-edge university spin-outs and exploring new ways to back businesses in areas like AI and deep tech. 

  • Introducing a UK Research Security Fund to boost university efforts to counter foreign interference and enhance UK resilience. 

A recent report by London Economics for the Russell Group demonstrated the positive benefits of investing in R&D for the whole country. For every £1 of public funds invested in research at Russell Group universities, more than £8.50 was generated for the UK economy – with a resulting £37.6billion for the UK economy in 2021-22 alone.  

Perhaps the most important and immediately bankable impact of R&D investment are the people with ideas and skills who can help shape a bright future for the UK. Learn more about the economic impact of research and innovation, and read the Russell Group manifesto, A Bright Future, for our vision for a thriving, innovation-driven economy.  

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