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Foundations for excellent research and innovation

Foundations for excellent research and innovation

To achieve our vision, we need to get the foundations right.

RAPID programme monitoring
Atlantic Ocean currents, launching a submersible off a ship

We will focus on four key areas:

  • Leading talent: Nurturing the pipeline of current and future talent
  • A trusted and diverse system: Driving a culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity providing the best opportunities for individuals and teams of people from all backgrounds to thrive
  • Openness and transparency: Supporting the development of a research and innovation system that is accessible, transparent and cooperative
  • Research culture: Promoting the highest standards of research, collaboration and integrity.

Building on the right foundations we can nurture and grow the widest pool of talent, which will help to ensure that the UK remains a top destination for global researchers and innovators. The UK will continue to promote the highest standards of research, collaboration and integrity.

As part of this, we will continue to lead the world in our approach to Open Science; championing the aim to make the findings of research, and its underpinning data, available to every interested citizen. We believe this will increase the impact of research, facilitate collaboration and increase trust in the system for both researchers and the wider public.

Leading talent

The UK is a top global destination with a world-leading research and innovation base for attracting and retaining researchers and innovators in both academia and business. A highly-skilled and diverse workforce is crucial to delivering the Government target of a total of 2.4% of GDP to be invested by public and private sectors in research and development by 2027.

We have created a new Future Leaders Fellowship to develop the next generation of innovation and research leaders from the UK and across the world, providing up to seven years of funding for early-career researchers and innovators. We will develop a longer-term Research and Innovation Talent Strategy in 2018, working closely with our partners.

We will:

  • Seek to increase skills at all levels, to maintain a broad disciplinary skills base, and work with partners to identify key skills gaps and build capacity. We will support vocational education and apprenticeships alongside more traditional pathways through higher education.
  • Support individuals to move between business and research careers, creating opportunities to develop careers in ways that stimulate creativity and innovation.
  • Back universities to develop vibrant research environments which act as magnets to attract and nurture talent.
  • Support multidisciplinary teams when these are needed to conduct research and innovation. This will require the creation of more highly valued roles for technologists, data scientists and others for the teams that are needed to tackle tough challenges.
  • Promote continuing professional development, accompanied by lifelong learning and training throughout the careers of researchers and innovators.

A trusted and diverse system

Everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with opportunities to flourish and succeed in a supportive environment. Diversity of ideas, experience and cultures produces and sustains the best results and performance.

In its first year, UK Research and Innovation will engage with its stakeholders to develop a strategy and action plan for equality, diversity and inclusion. We will consolidate the existing evidence base to guide our work and commission new analysis and research where we identify gaps in our knowledge.

We will establish an External Advisory Group to help us articulate the challenges and identify opportunities for UK Research and Innovation to lead and strengthen equality, diversity and inclusion across the sector.

We will:

  • Drive change, both as an employer and through our research and innovation funding.
  • Embed equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and in all that we do.
  • Seek to create a culture that facilitates and safeguards the opportunities for all to be respected and treated fairly.
  • Take an evidence-based approach, commissioning and funding research and evaluations to understand the issues, what interventions work – and what does not work.
  • Collaborate and engage with partners nationally and internationally, to gather evidence and ideas, to help catalyse and facilitate change.

Research and innovation culture

Creating a strong and responsible culture is crucial to enable the best research and innovation and to gain and maintain public trust. We will use our position as the largest public sector funder of research and innovation in the UK to lead positive behavioural change both nationally and internationally.

We will work with stakeholders in the UK and internationally to review the operating environment for research in the UK and around the world. We will act on the results to ensure that our funding and operations encourage the best practices and behaviours.

Building on work initiated by the Research Councils to develop a common approach to research culture, we have become a signatory of the Concordat to Support Research Integrity and will scope a new UK Research and Innovation Ethics Policy and Framework.

We will prioritise four related areas:

  • Research and innovation ethics – norms that define acceptable behaviour and practice
  • Conduct – the use of honest and verifiable methods in proposing, performing, and evaluating research
  • Reproducibility – the ability to achieve commensurate results when an experiment is conducted by an independent researcher under similar conditions
  • Analysis of funding mechanisms and metrics and their impact on culture.

Openness and transparency

The public has every right to expect that the research and innovation supported by the public purse has the maximum possible impact, Open research is an important part of maximising that impact. It is accessible, transparent and cooperative. It produces better quality outputs, more efficiently and in ways that can be readily shared. Open research has two components:

  • Open access: that publicly funded research should be widely and freely accessible to all as soon as possible, under conditions that allow maximum re-use.
  • Open data: that research data should be made openly available in a way that is legal, ethical, and economic.

UK Research and Innovation will participate in the work of the Open Research Data Task Force to develop a roadmap for open research data in the UK. We will review our open access policies to assess their effectiveness and make recommendations in 2019.

We will:

  • Identify the highest value areas where UKRI can drive improvements to the open research system in the near to mid-term.
  • Build on the expertise in Councils and the wider community to identify technological innovations that could transform open research.
  • Engage with Government and external groups to ensure the UK continues to play a leading role in the international open research movement.

The Haldane Principle

The Haldane Principle originated in a 1918 report on the machinery of government and was restated in 2010 through a Written Ministerial Statement by the Universities and Science Minister David Willetts. The key concept, which has developed since 1918, is that decisions on individual research proposals are best taken by researchers themselves through peer review. This involves evaluating the quality, excellence and likely impact of science and research programmes and ensuring subsidiarity in decision-making. Ministers are responsible for setting high-level allocations between research themes, agreeing strategic priorities, and considering major funding questions on national infrastructure and broader sector sustainability, but more detailed decisions, for example the awarding of grants for specific research activities, should not be taken by Ministers or central government.

Founded 100 years after Viscount Haldane’s report, UK Research and Innovation will host a conference late in 2018 which will examine how the recommendations of this seminal report have shaped the way research is commissioned and performed in the UK, and how the creation of UK Research and Innovation enables us to look to the future in all of the work that we do and support.