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How The R&D Roadmap Is Supercharging UK Scientific Innovation

The government has now launched its R&D Roadmap, highlighting the importance of innovative UK scientific work and how it will be supported.

Barrie Dowsett

Chief Executive Officer


5 minute read

What the R&D Roadmap sets out

Business Secretary Alok Sharma has recently laid out a new set of ambitious plans to make the UK a world leader in science and research.

Named the Research and Development Roadmap, the roadmap was published on the 1st July. It essentially puts global talent, ground-breaking research and a reduction in bureaucratic red tape at the heart of its goals in attracting top scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs to come here. Not only will this boost the UK’s already strong reputation for R&D, but it will also help speed up the economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19.

The roadmap relates to every key element of the government’s R&D agenda, signalling huge investment as well as very welcome reforms that will strengthen research culture. The very bold and valuable UK Advanced Research Projects Agency designed to fund the most high-risk, high-reward innovation projects is particularly notable.

Key plans announced in the roadmap

Main points include:

  • Pledging to bolster UK investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, as well as to increase public funding for R&D to £22 billion per year by 2024/25
  • Establishing a new Office for Talent to encourage the very best talent to come to the UK to live, work, study and innovate. It will also make sure the country remains competitive on a global stage.
  • From summer next year, international students coming to the UK to work towards a PhD will have leave to remain in the country for up to 3 years. This is a welcome follow-up to the announcement of a new global fast-track visa scheme which came into effect in January 2020.
  • Publishing a new UK R&D Place Strategy in the autumn/winter of 2020 that will maximise societal benefit and local growth from R&D right across the country. A ministerial R&D Place Advisory Group will also be created to analyse and inform decision-making on the place agenda
  • Slashing unnecessary bureaucracy and setting ambitious new goals for research to put the UK at the forefront of cutting-edge scientific discoveries
  • Setting up a new Innovation Expert Group to review and improve the governmental support on offer to companies underdoing R&D projects
  • Developing new funding options around collaboration to ensure the UK can further benefit from the opportunities that international scientific partnerships brings.
  • Launching a new R&D People and Culture Strategy to raise awareness of the benefits of a career in R&D

World class labs

The roadmap will also set aside £300 million to upgrade scientific infrastructure throughout the UK which will be administered via the government’s World Class Labs funding scheme. This money will allow universities and other academic institutes to more easily access cutting-edge laboratory equipment and facilities.

Innovation Expert Group

The purpose of the Innovation Expert Group is to secure the economic and societal benefits of world-class research across the UK. This is the group that will work to improve the ways in which the government can fund and support R&D at every stage.

The global talent scheme

The global talent scheme is another initiative that aims to draw talent into the UK from abroad. It essentially means that highly skilled EU citizens such as scientists and researchers will be able to come to the UK even if they don’t have a job offer secured.

Additionally, in order to attract the very best tech and digital talent into government itself, a brand new fellowship programme will be launched. Those who take part in the programme will help transform the delivery of public services by speeding up the adoption of cutting-edge technologies and approaches from industry, civil society and academia.

R&D Place Strategy

The R&D roadmap also has strong links to the government’s R&D Place Strategy, a new initiative designed to help specific local regions increase their productivity. This will be achieved through the setting up of centres of excellence (funded by the government), located in areas where R&D has traditionally been less forthcoming.

In reality, the R&D Place Strategy is about funnelling government cash away from hubs like London and the south east and looking at more socially deprived areas instead. It aims to bring about parity, level up R&D investment geographically and reduce inequality.

The final version of the R&D Place Strategy won’t be made available until this autumn. How the road map will fit into it in detail remains to be seen. However, there’s no question that empowering entrepreneurs from a more diverse range of backgrounds can only boost creativity and innovation.

Horizon Europe

If there’s one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught the scientific community it’s that global collaboration is essential. The government will therefore continue to recognise this thanks to its Horizon Europe initiative.

Horizon Europe supports UK scientists in continuing to lead collaborations in cutting-edge research that improves lives worldwide. You can find out more on the Horizon Europe website.

Meeting global scientific challenges

The new R&D roadmap also shores up the government’s efforts in addressing global challenges. These range from aiming to make the UK carbon-neutral by 2050 to medical research (including a COVID-19 vaccine), to improving public services and national security.

In brief

The new R&D roadmap will ensure better cohesion between local and national government, research organisations and industry to make sure research funding is accessible to all. It also aims to boost productivity, create high-quality jobs, improve public services and deliver economic and societal benefits to areas up and down the UK. Furthermore, the plans serves to drive home the importance of innovation, not just at company level but at industry level too, as the foundation of a healthy, functioning economy.

Lastly, it also highlights how funding, delivered through well-established schemes like R&D Tax Credits, R&D Grants and VGTR help to reward innovative projects whilst also reducing the financial risks.

You can read the roadmap in full and find further information on the Gov website.

Talk to the R&D experts

Myriad Associates is a leading R&D finance consultancy, specialising in all areas of research and development funding. We have many years’ experience behind us and will be pleased to assist you with advice on a broad range of R&D project financing options. Simply get in touch using our contact page or call 0207 118 6045.

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