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Research and Innovation Infrastructure Roadmap

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) was commissioned by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Ministers to develop the first national research and innovation infrastructure roadmap. This is a challenging task as the UK has never undertaken a road mapping exercise of this breadth and scale. It will offer enormous benefit in increasing our understanding of the UK's current capability and in planning for the future. This work is a component of wider government efforts to raise investment in research and development to 2.4% of GDP. Lord David Willetts is the UKRI Board member who is championing this work.

Programme Objectives

The objective is to create a long-term (until approximately 2030) research and innovation infrastructure roadmap, based on an understanding of existing UK infrastructure (and key international facilities in which the UK participates), future needs (research, economic and social), and resulting investment priorities. In addition, the roadmap will:

  • identify future research and innovation capability priorities
  • identify opportunities for increasing inter-connectivity
  • support development of UKRI's overall long-term investment plan
  • promote the UK as a global leader in research and innovation
  • set out the major steps needed to reach the long-term vision

Please note, this is not a direct funding programme.

Developing the roadmap

The Programme uses the following definition of ‘infrastructure’: Facilities, resources and services that are used by the research and innovation communities to conduct research and foster innovation in their fields. They can include: 

  • major research equipment (or sets of instruments)
  • knowledge-based resources such as collections, archives and data
  • e-infrastructures, such as data and computing systems and communication networks and any other tools that are essential to achieve excellence in research and innovation (R&I)

To develop the roadmap, we are conducting two workstreams:

  • Landscape analysis - assessing the landscape of research and innovation infrastructures currently available to researchers and innovators (within the UK and key activities overseas) to create snapshot of our current capability.
  • Assessment of future priorities and opportunities – identifying priority capabilities and future needs and opportunities that could be addressed by infrastructures.

Our emerging findings are summarised in the two reports below. The reports represent work in progress and draw on questionnaire work with existing infrastructures, previous work in discipline areas and consultation workshops with stakeholders and the extensive advisory networks within the organisations involved:

  • Initial analysis of infrastructure questionnaire responses and description of the landscape: This report is an initial analysis of the landscape of research and innovation infrastructures that span research disciplines and cut across the R&I spectrum (Published December 2018). Further details of the landscape analysis are set out below.
  • Progress Report: This report summarises key policy issues and identifies emerging themes and areas of potential capability that could be addressed by infrastructures identified through consultation with research and innovation communities so far.The report does not seek to make specific proposals or judgements on how to deliver these or the funding of particular infrastructures. A summary of the Progress Report (PDF, 436KB) is also available. 

We are already working to develop the themes and issues set out in this report, identify the major themes not yet captured and seek opportunities for further connections across the landscape through continued engagement with the research and innovation community. The First Edition report will set out options for how the potential capabilities described in this report might be achieved. We aim to publish the final roadmap in Summer 2019.

We will be engaging with stakeholders via a range of routes over the final months of the roadmap programme and aim to consider any valuable comments provided by end of April in the First Edition roadmap report.

If you have questions about particular sections of the Progress Report or Initial Analysis, please email infrastructure@ukri.org clearly specifying to which section your enquiry refers.

Landscape Analysis

The initial analysis of infrastructure questionnaire responses and description of the landscape (PDF, 4.1MB) captures our current understanding. It draws heavily from two questionnaires conducted with over 800 existing infrastructures, supplemented with insight gained from consultation workshops, interviews with stakeholders and previous relevant analysis. It is designed to catalyse discussion and further engagement, which will feed into the final landscape analysis that we produce in summer 2019.

Since this is the first attempt to map the UK’s research and innovation infrastructure landscape across all the disciplines represented here we recognise there will be gaps in our data. Since publication of the initial analysis we have been addressing the critical gaps in coverage and conducting further analysis by reopening the questionnaire over winter 2019. The questionnaire opened in December 2018 and closed in February 2019 after engaging with a further 120 infrastructures.

The programme team would like to thanks all who have responded to the questionnaires and supported the work to date. Any questions regarding the questionnaire should be communicated to infrastructure@ukri.org.

We are also developing an online portal for research and innovation infrastructure discovery. This portal will be a searchable internet tool that identifies and signposts infrastructures available to researchers and innovators. The portal will be released in summer 2019. Further information will be published on this webpage in due course.

Timescales

  • Programme launched – January 2018
  • Initial Analysis published – December 2018
  • Progress Report published – March 2019
  • First Edition published – Summer 2019

We aim to establish a process for reviewing the roadmap, evolving our approach and producing further editions approximately every 3 – 5 years.

Engagement

Development of the progress report has received substantial support and input from our stakeholders and we are grateful for the time and energy they have committed to the process so far.  This has been through a mix of interviews, bespoke workshops (attended by over 500 participants) and discussions at established advisory groups and networks.

We have received input from across academia, representative bodies and learned societies, business networks, key charitable organisations, universities, PSREs, catapult network, government departments, agencies and devolved administrations. The programme has also drawn on the Roadmap Programme Advisory Board (which includes council representatives across UKRI, BEIS funded PSREs, UUK, AIRTO, Devolved Funders and the Royal Society), as well as experience of colleagues responsible for the development of roadmaps in other countries and from ESFRI. This includes a recent workshop with international representatives at the AAS conference in Washington. We will continue to discuss with stakeholders as we develop the final report, especially to fill gaps in our analysis of current capability and future opportunities for the UK.

Further information

Slides from talks at programme launch event on 22 January 2018:

Further updates on the infrastructure roadmap will be added to this page as the work progresses.