One of my first priorities on joining Research England was to engage with as many of our stakeholders as possible and this has helped to shape and inform our plan.
I knew on joining, that Research England was a widely-respected organisation critical to delivering the dual support funding mechanisms. Our funding provides balance and stability to universities in England, alongside competitive funding awarded by UK Research and Innovation and other funders.
Our Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) for knowledge exchange and commercialisation, importantly, supports interaction with business and other users of research and development. However, what was immediately apparent was the regard held for Research England’s role; not just what we do, but how we do it.
To be able to fulfill Research England’s mission we must be committed to working in partnership to understand what is working well, where changes are needed, and where opportunities lie. It is by combining partnership working, with a deep knowledge and understanding of the research and knowledge exchange landscape and the university’s role in it, that enables Research England to act as a custodian of this unique system.
Working with others, we can foster a vibrant and world-leading research and innovation system underpinned by an extraordinary diverse range of institutions and organisations that collectively comprise one of the UK’s greatest assets.
Every day, millions of people across the country reap the benefits of research and knowledge exchange in universities, but we can do more to ensure the societal and economic benefits reach more people and that universities play an even greater role in supporting and driving these. The incentives we offer need to foster greater collaboration with different sectors, leverage substantial private investment into research and development and step change commercialisation, business scale up and productivity.
We need to build capacity and capability, and to do this we need to create an environment that nurtures and grows the research and innovation base and supports translation, while also building contemporary research cultures that create the best possible environment for researchers.
There is a breadth of excellent research activity demonstrated through the recent Research Excellence Framework; we must continue to evolve not just the exercise, but our understanding of what a healthy, thriving research system looks like and how the right assessment model facilitates this. Working in partnership with the , with the sector and the International Advisory Group, the Future Research Assessment Programme we will do just that.
By 2025, Research England will distribute roughly £8 billion funding to the sector a substantial uplift but also in a time where there are real pressures on sustainability. The fiscal challenges have not dampened a clear determination by universities to be part of the solution to local, national, and global issues that affect us all. It is important that we can articulate those challenges and provide strong evidence of the impact made by our universities. We intend to identify ways in which we can do this more systematically, while also removing, where we can, unnecessary bureaucracy in the system.
Our strategic delivery plan sets out the commitments that we intend to deliver and the ambitious work programme to fulfil these across the spending review period.
I look forward to work with colleagues and partners to deliver our ambition.
Top image: University of Sheffield Diamond Building. Credit: Alamy