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Creating world-class research and innovation infrastructure

What is research and innovation infrastructure?

The UK’s world-leading status in research and innovation is in large part founded upon its network of internationally competitive, high-quality and accessible research and innovation infrastructure.

This includes:

  • large-scale physical research facilities, equipment and sets of instruments, such as synchrotrons, research ships, scientific satellites and ‘living labs’ like The North Wyke Farm Platform
  • networks of technologies and e-infrastructures, including data and computing systems and communication networks, like the high-performance computing service ARCHER
  • knowledge-based resources, including scientific, cultural and artistic collections and archives.

The UKRI Infrastructure Fund

Research and innovation infrastructure is fundamental to delivering the UK’s wider ambitions of increasing UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

The 2020 Government Research and Development Roadmap highlighted how UKRI will provide a long-term, flexible pipeline of research and innovation infrastructure investment priorities for the next 10 to 20 years.

The roadmap builds on the recommendations from our infrastructure programme published in our Opportunity report and Landscape Analysis.

We have set up a new process to deliver this investment.

This will enable us to prioritise significant infrastructure investments funded through the UKRI Infrastructure Fund to:

  • ensure the UK remains a partner of choice for collaboration
  • demonstrate that the UK is a global leader in infrastructure
  • put our infrastructure to use in tackling global challenges

The Infrastructure Fund will support step-changes in infrastructure capability and/or capacity, including:

  • new infrastructure
  • major upgrades
  • repurposing
  • transformative developments
  • decommissioning

It will cover investments:

  • across the complete disciplinary spectrum
  • from fundamental research to innovation-focused activities
  • located across the UK’s regions and nations or which form part of major international collaborations

How we will make infrastructure investments

The Infrastructure Fund is not an open funding opportunity for proposals.

Our UKRI councils and teams will identify potential projects using our existing engagement work with our research and innovation communities.

These will be assessed by the infrastructure advisory committee, set up to make recommendations to UKRI’s decision-making boards on the pipeline and prioritisation of infrastructure investments through the Fund.

What the infrastructure advisory committee does

We have appointed committee members from higher education, innovation and research organisations, industry and commerce, policymaking and/or civil society.
The committee will assess the research and innovation quality, impact potential, sustainability, environmental sustainability and strategic importance of the proposed projects.

Its responsibilities include:

  • advising the UKRI Executive Committee and Board on the prioritisation of infrastructure investments and portfolio options which meet the criteria of the UKRI Infrastructure Fund, including full infrastructure projects and associated scoping, design and pilot work
  • keeping a watching brief on delivery of the infrastructure portfolio, recommending refinements as investments move to implementation and further information about feasibility becomes known
  • supporting UKRI in maintaining and developing its understanding of the UK research and innovation infrastructure landscape’s needs
  • providing advice on the wider research and innovation infrastructure landscape.

Final prioritisation and decisions will be subject to confirmation of UKRI’s budget in the Government’s 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review.

Contact infrastructure@ukri.org if you would like further information.

Last updated: 28 October 2020

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