£2.2 billion investment to support government’s R&D ambitions

business men

Research England has published overall budgets for higher education provider (HEP) research and knowledge exchange funding for the year 2020-2.

The budgets include an uplift for higher education innovation funding (HEIF) and an increase in national productivity investment fund (NPIF) adding to quality-related research (QR) funding for 2020-21.

This continued investment demonstrates the UK government’s commitment to its long-term objectives for research and development:

  • to support the breadth and vision in the R&D roadmap
  • invest in the science and research that will deliver economic growth and societal benefits across the UK for decades to come
  • to build the foundations for the new industries of tomorrow.

How the funding will be used

Of the budgets confirmed today:

  • Research England has been allocated a further £107 million from the NPIF. Of this:
    • £10 million will be allocated in proportion to QR business research funding
    • The remaining £97 million will be distributed in proportion to other main elements of QR funding.

This additional funding means that total QR funding at 2019-20 levels will be maintained, including the accelerated QR funding, which was brought forward into assessment year (AY) 2019-20 to relieve immediate pressures being faced by providers in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

QR funding is Research England’s largest funding stream and plays a core role in providers, allowing them to drive both academic excellence and create positive impacts on the lives of people right across the globe.

QR funding is linked to a rigorous national assessment of excellence (the Research Excellence Framework) and plays a significant role in shaping research capacity and capability while leveraging additional funding from business and charities through new and stronger university partnerships.

In addition:

  • support for HEIF achieves the government’s long-term commitment to increase this to £250 million, with £20 million of the uplift through formula to support delivery of the key foundations of the industrial strategy around “ideas”, “people” and their role in supporting “place”, and complement investments made through the other councils in UKRI.
  • additional funding has been identified to support investment in our foremost specialist institutions, as announced by the government in the March 2020 budget.
    Research England will work with the Office for Students to develop an allocation approach which supports research excellence and capabilities within these specialist institutions to help ensure their continued contribution.
  • from the total nearly £2.2 billion budget, Research England allocates individual amounts to each higher education provider in England according to criteria that are largely based on the quality of research and knowledge exchange activity the university carries out.

For a more detailed explanation of recurrent and capital funding, what it supports and how it is allocated, view the Research England funding pages.

Research England wrote to all higher education institutions in England today to inform them of the overall funding allocation. Individual institutional allocations will be announced later in the summer.

Focus on strengthening our research base

Research England Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said:

I am proud that universities stepped forward immediately in response to the crisis to partner with civic leaders, businesses, and public services across a breadth of important issues that affect our society – from vaccine and ventilator development through to the instant and longer term impacts on culture and education.

Our funding priorities continue to focus on strengthening our excellent research base across the higher education sector and will support our universities to address not just critical Covid19-related challenges, but future system stability including recovery and, importantly, growth.

Further information

  1. Further details of the allocation are published in the circular letter “recurrent and capital funding for 2020-21 (reference RE-CL-2020-06) ”. Please note that recurrent funding is distributed by academic year and capital funding by financial year.
  2. “Knowledge exchange” refers to a broad range of interactions between higher education institutions and the economy and society, in which universities put their considerable knowledge, expertise and assets to use through engaging with businesses, public services, the third sector and communities. Examples include:
    • setting up businesses to develop new technologies grounded in university research
    • enabling small businesses to use specialist equipment and other facilities
    • delivery of professional training, consultancy and services
    • supporting graduates to set up their own business
    • contributing to social innovation.
  3. The guidance from BEIS to Research England (received as an annex to an allocations letter from BEIS to UK Research and Innovation) can be seen here.

Research England is a public body that shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in universities that:

  • distributes funding to universities, primarily in England but also in the rest of the UK
  • works to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity
  • supports and challenges universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society.

Research England is part of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven research councils and Innovate UK.

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