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Ministerial Introduction

Ministerial Introduction

This is a once-in-a-generation moment for innovation and research in the UK.


Dr Mirko Kovac (left), Director of Imperial College London’s Aerial Robotics Lab, with his colleague, Dr Talib Alhinai

The UK’s ability to thrive in a changing world, to solve the challenges we face as a society and to build a prosperous economy depends more than anything on ideas. To succeed, we must push the frontiers of knowledge, and find new ways to put our knowledge to practical use. That is why the power of ideas sits at the heart of the UK’s Industrial Strategy.

The launch of UK Research and Innovation signals a step change in our ability to back new ideas and their application. By bringing together the seven research councils, Research England and Innovate UK, our ambition is to create the world’s best funding organisation for research and innovation.

UKRI will continue the councils’ strong tradition of funding excellent research in the sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, supporting the UK’s world-leading universities and research institutions. It will also be a powerful supporter of business innovation and enterprise, through the work of Innovate UK, the Catapult Centres, and the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

But this is not just business as usual. Creating a single voice and a strategic brain for research and innovation will bring new and significant benefits. It will help us take action on important issues, such as how to promote interdisciplinary research, how to guarantee research integrity, and how to ensure that scientific careers are open to everyone, regardless of gender, race or background. UKRI will have a nationwide remit to understand and maintain our research infrastructure and innovation landscape and use the research and innovation system to build on local strengths and deliver economic growth across the UK.

And it will also help us bring together our research and innovation talents to tackle global and societal issues, such as the Grand Challenges set out in the Industrial Strategy.

We are backing our aspirations with real investment. UKRI will benefit from the largest increase in research and development funding for forty years, announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement. And we have committed to further increase the UK’s investment in research and development to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, and in the future to 3%. UKRI will be at the heart of our plans to make this investment a reality.

The Strategic Prospectus we are publishing today marks the beginning of a new era for innovation and research. It is an important step towards building the UKRI Strategy and we look forward to the work of UKRI over the coming months in tackling a series of important questions about how research and innovation can be supported in the most effective ways to maximise the benefits of its work across the UK.  We wish UKRI and all its partners the greatest success in harnessing the power of ideas in the best interests of the UK.

Rt Hon Greg Clark MP Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy  

Mr Sam Gyimah MP Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation