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How we will deliver and be accountable

How we will deliver and measure success

Salford City docks from the river Irwell

UKRI is responsible for a large and growing budget. In 2018 alone, it accounts for over £6 billion of investment in research and innovation, the majority of UK public expenditure on R&D.

Each UKRI council has a unique role in supporting the UK’s world-class research base, and UKRI is dedicated to continuing to invest in research across the full spectrum of academic disciplines. The chart sets out the breakdown of 2018/19 funding allocations between UKRI councils.

As set out in its Industrial Strategy, the government allocated £7bn to the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) over the period 2017/19 to 2021/22. UKRI has a key role in delivering this investment. This will provide a welcome and substantive boost to UKRI’s funding, representing the biggest ever increase in public funding of R&D.

Split between themes, the NPIF funding package balances both discovery-led and challenge-based research and innovation. This funding allows us to:

  • Tackle the grand challenges of our time by bringing together the UK’s world-leading research with business through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
  • Ensure the UK continues to lead the world in pushing the frontiers of human knowledge by creating a new competitive and strategic fund that builds on the vision set out in Paul Nurse’s review
  • Support local economic growth across the country by launching a new Strength in Places Fund
  • Ensure we have the highly-skilled and diverse workforce needed for a growing and innovative economy
  • Drive commercialisation of research by strengthening collaborative links between business and academia, and work with the HE sector to develop the Knowledge Exchange Framework
  • Ensure the UK remains a leading nation on the world stage by building strong international partnerships and attracting the best international talent

In addition to the UKRI funded programmes outlined in the charts, UKRI will also advise on and have access to the Strategic Priorities Fund; this fund will ensure that strategically important research and innovation which isn’t aligned with other funding programmes can seek direct support.

Further detail on how this funding will be allocated to individual programmes and research areas will be published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Measuring success

To meet our objectives we need to know what success looks like, and how we will measure it.

In the short term we must transform the way we work without losing focus on achieving our longer-term goals across the three pillars of knowledge, economy and society.

Following best practice examples in existing funding organisations, we have developed a framework for tracking and reporting UK Research and Innovation performance. We will use this framework to identify successes and areas for improvement, and to analyse areas where new action and interventions are required.

The framework will be used to track performance across all of our activities, as well as within specific areas of strategic importance such as Place, Talent, and Infrastructure.

We will monitor:

  • The successful transition from our existing structures to UK Research and Innovation in April 2018, focusing on leadership and governance, staff transfer, and continuity of corporate services
  • The successful transformation to a new organisation in the medium term, focusing on enhanced decision making, efficient and effective delivery, and enhanced communications and public engagement
  • The successful impact of our inputs and activities on knowledge, economy and society. To measure our performance against our long-term ambitions, we will monitor a broad set of outcomes with a wide range of quantitative and qualitative indicators:
  • Pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding: New research, tools, and methods; high quality people; and improved knowledge sharing
  • Delivering economic impact: New products, businesses and services; increased business growth and jobs; links between the research and the innovation, business and investment communities
  • Creating social and cultural impact: Improved wellbeing; health outcomes; improved policymaking and public services; improved security, resilience, and cost avoidance.

To enable full reporting against this framework, we will transform the way we work with data. The new UKRI Data Hub will bring together our collective evidence base and provide new analytical tools that allow us to perform innovative analysis and gain deeper understanding of our activities and their impacts.

There are strong links between this framework and the monitoring and evaluation activity that we are committed to carrying out across UKRI’s programmes and activities. We are committed to understanding the impact of our funding – both legacy and new – and data and evidence collected for programme-level evaluations will be used to help measure UKRI-wide performance as appropriate. Our ambition as UKRI is to deliver a step change in understanding how R&D investments can best drive productivity and economic growth in the UK.

Achieving our vision – our corporate priorities

The way in which we operate is as important as what we are striving to deliver – our operational approach will determine how successful we are.

We want to make it as easy as possible for the research and innovation community to lead the way globally on interdisciplinary research. Together we will develop efficient and effective services that support our communities whilst ensuring we are flexible enough to respond quickly to new priorities.

To enable this we will first focus on:

  • Our organisation and people
  • Processes
  • Systems

We will produce a detailed multi-year corporate plan on an annual basis, expanding on the detail introduced here. Organisation and people Our people are our biggest asset, and the organisations forming UKRI have an excellent reputation for investing in their staff. UK Research and Innovation is committed to helping its employees develop new skills and undertake continuing professional development. This will include, for example, a UKRI school of learning that will support and identify talent in a leadership training scheme. UKRI will also promote the exchange of talent between its constituent bodies, the research base and business and encourage our people to grow their careers across the whole organisation.

UKRI is comprised of the Board, nine councils that are overseen by the Board and a strategic and corporate centre. The councils and the strategic and corporate centre are coordinated by the Executive Committee, which is led by the Chief Executive and also includes the Chief Finance Officer and Strategy Director. The Board is made up of the UKRI Chair, Chief Executive, Chief Finance Officer and twelve independent members.

The councils are statutory entities, established by the Higher Education and Research Act, which will deliver against their specific discipline focus. Each Council is led by an Executive Chair, and supported by up to 12 independent members. The Executive Chair is a senior member of UKRI staff, and line managed by the Chief Executive. They have delegated financial authority from the Chief Executive to make commitments on behalf of their Council.


A substantial amount of our activity is concerned with delivering financial support through efficient funding and investment services. To be successful, our processes must be flexible and enable us to respond quickly to change. They must also help to maximise the time that colleagues in the research and innovation community can spend on delivering outcomes, rather than filling in forms. It should also enable us to measure impact and accurately spread and disseminate best practice on what works.

We will ensure that both the funding and investment services for industry and academia are effective. We will ensure that we are an organisation that is easy to deal with. We will develop our processes and our people to ensure the successful delivery of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and Strategic Priorities Fund, where new ways of working and closer collaboration across councils will be essential.

Through UKRI, we will develop a simple and unified service that flexibly supports our ambitions, builds upon current good practice and partnerships, widens evidence based decision making, frees up more time for value-added activities and helps achieve world-class outcomes for the UK.

Our people and services need to be supported by the most effective systems. There is a complex landscape of legacy information technology systems and approaches across the organisations forming UKRI. We will improve efficiency and productivity by developing an infrastructure that delivers an advanced information technology service provision for UKRI that better meets the needs of the constituent councils and our new ways of working.

We will invest in new technology that allows us to reduce our overall costs or improve our operational efficiency. This will include new digital solutions that will capture the information needed to demonstrate economic, social and cultural impact and will give us the evidence to support our increased expenditure. We also need to explore how best to invest in effective grant management, finance and HR systems, making it possible for our people and users to be connected to the right systems wherever they are in the organisation.