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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, including the high-performance computing service ARCHER
  • Knowledge-based resources, including scientific, cultural and artistic collections and archives.

Findings of the infrastructure programme

Following the Industrial Strategy Green Paper published in January 2017, UKRI was commissioned by BEIS to create a long-term (approximately 2030) research and innovation infrastructure roadmap based on a picture of existing UK infrastructure.  

The findings of the infrastructure programme are summarised in the two reports below.

  • Opportunities to grow our capability (PDF, 6.2MB) - This report assesses the future infrastructure landscape and identifies needs, opportunities and key themes that could be a major benefit to the UK’s capability to 2030. It is intended as a strategic guide to inform investment decisions for the next generation of infrastructure.
  • Landscape analysis (PDF, 4.9MB) - This report provides a detailed picture of the UK’s infrastructure. It builds on the Initial analysis of the UK’s landscape of infrastructures, filling gaps in the data and exploring key issues in more depth.

The reports build on the findings of two interim reports: see our Programme background and objectives.

As set out in the recent Government Research and Development Roadmap, 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 Roadmap highlighted how we are building upon the recommendations in the Opportunity report to provide a long-term, flexible pipeline of research and innovation infrastructure investment priorities for the next 10 to 20 years.

As part of this prioritisation process and implementation of the R&D Roadmap, we are establishing a new mechanism to enable UKRI to prioritise significant infrastructure investments funded through the cross UKRI Infrastructure Fund, assembling a new Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IAC) to support the process. This will ensure the UK remains a partner of choice for collaboration, demonstrate that the UK is a global leader in infrastructure, and put our infrastructure to use in tackling global challenges.

The Infrastructure Advisory Committee

The newly formed Infrastructure Advisory Committee (IAC) was established to make recommendations to UKRI’s decision-making boards on the pipeline of infrastructure investment priorities and prioritisation of investments through the UKRI Infrastructure Fund (previously called Grand Challenges Funding).

The Infrastructure Fund supports step-changes in infrastructure capability and/or capacity (including new infrastructure, major upgrades, repurposing, transformative developments or decommissioning). It supports investments right across the disciplinary spectrum and from fundamental research to innovation focused activities. Investments may be located across the regions and nations of the UK or form part of major international collaborations. Final prioritisation and decisions will be subject to confirmation of UKRI’s budget in the next Comprehensive Spending Review.

Discover what research and innovation infrastructure the UK already has

As part of this programme, we have created a portal that catalogues hundreds of research and innovation infrastructures across the UK, whether they come under UKRI’s remit or not. It is available as a resource for researchers, innovators, international partners and businesses with an interest in using UK infrastructure in their work. View the portal online

Research and innovation infrastructure case studies

To promote and showcase the breadth of UK infrastructure capability to researchers, innovators, international partners and businesses, we have put together a representative snapshot of some examples of the UK infrastructure within and beyond UKRI to appreciate the range and opportunities the UK provides. View the infrastructure case studies online.

International links: UK proposals to the 2021 ESFRI Roadmap

The European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) is updating its Roadmap of pan-European Research Infrastructures and has launched a process for new proposals to be considered for inclusion on the 2021 Roadmap. For more information please see the International links: UK proposals to the 2021 ESFRI Roadmap. The deadline for submissions to the UK process was 10 February 2020. This call is now closed.