The Royal Academy of Engineering welcomes today’s publication of the UK Research and Development Roadmap of investment up to 2027, outlining a long-term plan to support an economic recovery founded on research and innovation.
The UK has a deep and broad research base with demonstrable excellence across many areas including science, engineering, mathematics, physics, medicine, social sciences, humanities, design and cultural research. However, our investment level is low compared to other world-leading nations. Innovation is a pillar of the UK’s economy but we face stiff international competition in the global market. Long-term commitment to innovation is essential to encourage businesses to invest here and help create new markets, supply chains and jobs, as the Academy emphasised in a report published last week following consultation with R&D-intensive businesses.
The roadmap reinforces the government’s commitment to increasing UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, building on the Chancellor’s announcement in March of a substantial increase in public funding for R&D to £22 billion per year by 2024/25. It sets out – and invites a nationwide conversation on – how this investment can best support the government’s efforts to address global challenges, from tackling climate change and developing new medicines to improving public services and increasing economic productivity and prosperity.
Professor Karen Holford CBE FREng FLSW, Chair of the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Committee, says:
“This is unquestionably a time of uncertainty and challenge for research and innovation in the UK, yet we are also faced with a great opportunity to build back better with R&D at the heart of the economy. The publication of the R&D roadmap confirms the government’s ambition to make that a reality. We are looking forward to working with the full breadth of the community and being part of the conversation that will follow. Investing in R&D is investing in the future.
“We are a community of many parts - from the researchers in our universities pushing the boundaries of knowledge, the start-ups and entrepreneurs embracing risk, the innovators and businesses that are powered by R&D, to the institutions providing expertise and facilities. But working in collaboration with government we can be greater than the sum of our parts and deliver even more for the economy and society. I am particularly encouraged by the ambition to work across the devolved administrations and key stakeholders, the opportunity to maintain the positive collaborative behaviours emerging as a result of COVID-19 and the recognition of equality, diversity and inclusion as a critical aspect of research culture.”
The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, says:
“People are at the heart of this. By making the UK the very best place in the world to be a researcher, inventor or innovator, we will inspire the next generation of engineers, biologists, designers, historians and entrepreneurs. We want to send a powerful signal to talented people around the world: come to the UK, be part of this exciting new future.
“The pandemic has been the greatest disruption to our lives and livelihoods for a generation. But this is not a moment to stand still. This is a moment of great reinvention. By confidently embracing the power of science, research and innovation, we will leap forward and build a brighter future for all.”