New network to maximise research and innovation funding impact

Group of professionals discussing ideas

UKRI is investing £7 million to establish the Innovation and Research Caucus (IRC) as a world leading centre of excellence in research and innovation funding.

Over the next three years the IRC will increase the use of robust evidence and insights in UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) strategies and investments.

This will support UKRI’s significant contribution to realising the goals of the UK Science and Technology Framework, and ultimately help deliver greater societal and economic benefits from research and innovation.

An outstanding research and innovation system

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

UKRI needs access to a robust and actionable evidence base. It also needs to bring together people with different skillsets and experience, who can work with UKRI to understand and implement the changes needed to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system which delivers for citizens across the UK.

The Innovation and Research Caucus will have a vital role to play in providing powerful insights into what works, where and why. I look forward to working with the Caucus to create and use those insights to optimise the support we provide to the UK’s outstanding research and innovation system.

The IRC is funded by UKRI via the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Innovate UK.

It will be led by Professor Tim Vorley at Oxford Brookes University and Professor Stephen Roper at the University of Warwick, both of whom have a long and successful track record of delivering high quality research and advice for UKRI.

Building a thriving research and innovation ecosystem

The IRC aims to:

  • build a community of research and innovation experts to proactively and responsively enhance UKRI’s funding and support strategies and investments
  • work with UKRI to increase the use and influence of robust evidence in the development of research and innovation (R&I) funding and support strategies and investments
  • establish itself as a world leading centre of excellence in evidence and thought leadership on R&I funding strategies and interventions
  • support both Innovate UK in delivering its plan for action and ESRC in its ambition to create the best conditions for innovation in the social sciences

The work undertaken by the IRC will be wide ranging and include:

  • carrying out research projects commissioned by UKRI to provide the evidence needed to inform its decision-making and investment design
  • capability building to increase communication between academics and policymakers
  • working with researchers at a range of career stages to ensure a pipeline of expertise in research and innovation funding
  • identifying areas to research and what interventions might be needed to improve support for the R&I sector

Delivering actionable insights

IRC Co-Director Professor Tim Vorley said:

I am delighted to be co-directing this flagship investment with Professor Stephen Roper, which brings together leading researchers from Oxford Brookes, Warwick, Manchester, Birkbeck and Cambridge universities.

The Innovation and Research Caucus will adopt an inter-disciplinary approach and convene a network of academics from across the UK to deliver applied and actionable insights on research and innovation policy development, implementation and evaluation for UKRI.

Building on a successful approach

From 2007 until June 2023, ESRC and Innovate UK co-funded the Innovation Caucus, led by Professor Tim Vorley. During its lifespan, the Innovation Caucus developed into a valuable asset, providing expert advice and evidence to support UKRI to better understand and support sustainable innovation-led growth.

It also demonstrated how social sciences can make an even greater contribution to UKRI’s evidence needs and has helped the social science community understand joint areas of evidence needs.

The new IRC builds on this framework, with greater funding and a broader remit encompassing both innovation and research funding.

Top image:  Credit: alvarez, E+ via Getty Images

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