House of Lords Science and Technology Committee Inquiry into by rfb16446

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									                House of Lords Science and Technology Committee
     Inquiry into ‘Setting science and technology research funding priorities’

             Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research,
                             University College London

  Summary

  Any consideration of research funding priorities should take account of the whole of the research
  base, including the arts, humanities and social sciences.

  Research funding must:
  - deliver excellent research which improves people’s lives;
  - support a sustainable and agile research base in the UK, including supporting talented students
  and researchers;
  - support curiosity-driven basic research;
  - recognise the importance of research in universities and the vital role of major research-
  intensive universities in fostering a wisdom culture.

  The Haldane principle should continue to form the central element of research funding policy.

  Research policy should be coordinated to sustain the health of the research base as a whole, and
  should strike an appropriate balance between investigator-driven research and needs-driven
  research, recognizing the importance of maintaining the UK’s research strengths across a broad
  disciplinary base.

  UCL emphasises its strong support for the dual support system and the importance of sustaining
  QR funding.

  Coordination between publicly-funded and industry-funded research can be encouraged through
  university-led business research collaborations.

  Research policy should focus on broad areas of strategic importance to which research – from all
  disciplines – can contribute, rather than simply emphasising perceived economically important
  areas of research. UCL’s Grand Challenges strategy takes this approach, identifying key research
  themes to address global challenges, recognising that these require a multi-faceted,
  multidisciplinary response that can be best provided by major research-intensive universities.

  The UK is facing increasing competition as emerging and established competitor countries make
  unprecedented investments in research. Now is the time to maintain the investment in the UK
  research base, so that the UK can grow out of the current downturn.




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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
1.    UCL is pleased to make a submission to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry
      into ‘Setting science and technology research funding priorities’. We would like to make
      a number of introductory comments before responding to the specific questions that the
      Committee has identified.

2.    We note that the Committee refers to ‘science and technology research’1. We would
      emphasise that to ensure the continued health of the research base any consideration of
      research funding priorities should take account of the whole of the research base,
      including disciplines in the arts, humanities and social sciences, rather than considering
      particular disciplines or areas of research separately.

3.    Recent reports by the British Academy2, the AHRC 3, and the ESRC 4 have highlighted the
      value of arts, humanities and social sciences research, which contributes to cultural
      capital and public policy making, supports innovation and creativity in our research base
      and beyond, and is vital in ‘underpinning the quality of life and hence the wellbeing of
      society’5. Support for research in the arts, humanities and social science also supports
      interaction with international businesses (in terms of promoting cultural awareness and
      understanding, knowledge of language) as well as ensuring a cultural and intellectual life
      in the UK that is attractive to business, international students and tourists. The AHRC
      has emphasised the importance of art and humanities research for the UK’s ‘culture
      ecosystem’ and for economic and civic capital, as well as for the international success of
      the UK research endeavour 6.

4.    We would stress that it is especially inadvisable to consider science and technology
      research in isolation from research in the arts, humanities and social sciences, given that
      such research also underpins many areas of research in scientific disciplines7. Indeed,
      research is becoming increasingly a multidisciplinary endeavour, with the
      acknowledgement that many of the great research challenges the UK faces can only be
      addressed through research drawn from a wide range of disciplines. Any consideration
      of research funding priorities should explicitly recognize this point. We would therefore
      suggest that the Committee’s inquiry should consider research funding priorities for the
      research base as a whole, recognising that the arts, humanities and social sciences are a
      vital component of the UK’s research base 8.

What is the overall objective of publicly-funded science and technology research?

5.    The objective of publicly-funded research is, first and foremost, the creation of new
      knowledge, which enables fundamental advances in our understanding of problems and
      drives the progress of humankind 9. In the global knowledge society, the creation of new
      knowledge is key to our prosperity and wellbeing. Simply put, the objective of research
      should be to improve people’s lives, whether by improving understanding, producing

1
  If arts, humanities and social sciences research is also implicit in this term, we would urge the Committee to make
this explicit.
2
  British Academy, Punching our weight: the humanities and social sciences in public policy making, 2008.
3
  AHRC / NESTA, Arts and Humanities Research and Innovation, 2008.
4
  ESRC, Innovation: learning from ESRC research, 2008.
5
  AHRC, Arts and Humanities Research Landscape, 2008.
6
  Arts and Humanities Research Council, Leading the World: The economic impact of UKL arts and humanities
research, June 2009. An analysis of publications, citations and RAE results was used to demonstrate the excellence
of arts and humanities research in the UK.
7
  The Academy of Medical Sciences has emphasised the importance of ’a multi-disciplinary approach to health
research’, including the social sciences and humanities (Academy of Medical Sciences, Letter to Lord Drayson, 30
March 2009); likewise the Wellcome Trust provides significant funding for research into the medical humanities and
public engagement in recognition of their importance for promoting understanding of medical history and ethics and
public engagement with science.
8
  Around 50% of the UK’s research community are based in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
9
  The report of the National Committee on Higher Education (1997) identified ‘adding to the sum of human
knowledge and understanding’ as the primary function of research.
http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/ncihe/nr_165.htm
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
      new technologies, developing new products or applications, providing innovations in
      healthcare, or the myriad other ways through which the funding and undertaking of
      research can enhance quality of life. In this context, it is important to remember that
      the ‘social importance’ of research is as important as ‘economic importance’ – and
      indeed may have equally significant economic benefits, although this are often more
      difficult to precisely determine or quantify.

6.    Research funding must support a sustainable research base in the UK. Public funding
      has enabled the UK to become a global leader in research (second in the world behind
      the US). It is vital that funding is sustained to maintain our world-leading position and
      international competitiveness (the importance of the UK’s research base in supporting
      economic competitiveness and the ‘innovation ecosystem’ was noted by Lord
      Sainsbury10); ensure that the UK remains a destination of choice for the most talented
      scholars and researchers; and ensure that our leading research-intensive universities are
      able to compete with the best in the world. In an increasingly competitive global
      context, sustainability means more than just standing still; rather we must be continually
      improving and increasing investment to maintain the UK’s leading position. Funding
      must also ensure that the research base remains sufficiently agile and responsive to new
      challenges and research needs; stagnation in the research base will quickly breed
      mediocrity, not excellence.

7.    Public funding of research must also support talented students and researchers. The
      education and training of highly-skilled researchers is one of the key outputs of
      investment in research, both in terms of supporting the workforce of the UK generally,
      and in sustaining our research base. It is essential that we continue to invest in the
      most talented researchers to ensure that we have the skill and ability to continue to
      undertake world-class research. In particular, it is important to ensure adequate support
      for early career researchers, who are the future of our research base.

8.    Public funding also provides crucial support for the curiosity-driven basic research that
      underpins the UK’s research base but which may not find funding elsewhere. This
      complements business investment in R&D, which tends to be targeted at research which
      is closer to market, rather than that which is exploratory. (It should be noted that the
      outcomes from basic research are also highly desirable to industry – their own R&D
      programmes draw on the knowledge generated from the basic research conducted in
      universities11). Given that curiosity-driven, basic research forms the bedrock of our
      research base and produces the new knowledge that in turn can be translated into new
      applications, this essential objective for public funding cannot be over-stated.

9.    We would also emphasise the importance of public funding of research in universities.
      Universities are uniquely placed to not only generate new knowledge, but also to ensure
      the judicious application of knowledge for the good of humankind. This goes beyond a
      knowledge culture to a culture of wisdom – where new knowledge is tensioned,
      unforeseen consequences are considered, and new technology is filtered to ensure that
      it is applied wisely. Such a wisdom culture draws from and capitalises on the expertise
      of all research disciplines and is fostered in research-intensive universities which
      cultivate multidisciplinary research excellence. It is vital that this is recognised in


10
   Lord Sainsbury of Turville, The Race to the Top: A Review of Government’s Science and Innovation Policies,
October 2007.
11
   Many firms that do not invest in their own basic research do invest in basic research in universities, in order to
have general access to new knowledge, the latest thinking and trained researchers (Lim, K., The relationship
between research and innovation in the semiconductor and pharmaceutical industries (1981-1997), Research Policy
33 (2004) 287-321); a study of businesses that invested in Engineering Research Centres (ERCs) in the United States
found that industry valued university activity in basic research because it created new knowledge and was a source
of leading research – 80 per cent of businesses were involved in ERCs to gain access to new ideas (Feller, I., Ailes, C.
P. and Roessner, J. D., Impacts of research universities on technological innovation in industry: evidence from
engineering research centres, Research Policy, 31 (2002) 457-474.)
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
      research policy and funding in order to maintain excellence in research and innovation
      and ensure the UK’s ability to solve global problems.

How are public funds allocated? Who is involved at each level of the decision
making process? Where appropriate, is the Haldane Principle applied?

10. UCL fully endorses the Haldane principle and welcomes the Science Minister Lord
    Drayson’s comments that:
            It's vital that we stick to the Haldane principle in setting our research priorities.
            Peer review, the judgments of the science community and the independence of
            the research councils are all key to our continued success.12
    However, we are concerned that, as Government takes a greater interest in high-level
    direction of funding 13, the Haldane principle is being eroded and would caution against
    this. Researchers, rather than politicians, remain best-placed to make decisions about
    research priorities and funding and the Haldane principle should continue to form the
    central element of research funding policy. It may also be appropriate to consider the
    Research Councils’ mechanisms for developing policy – in particular we would emphasise
    that the majority of Research Council staff should have a strong background and training
    in science and research. More staff exchange (such as secondments) between academia
    and the Research Councils might help to enhance a mutual understanding of the
    respective priorities and drivers of these two sectors.

11. In terms of the allocation of public funds for medical research, we would suggest that
    consideration could be given to the governance of NIHR funding in NHS Trusts; we are
    aware of concerns that the ring-fence does not always function effectively below the
    NIHR level. An alternative might be to allocate NIHR money directly to universities,
    ensuring that it is ring-fenced for NHS research. It will also be important that the NIHR
    continues to develop its peer review processes to ensure they are of the highest quality
    and are funding the very best research.

How are science and technology research priorities coordinated across
Government?

12. As emphasised above (paragraphs 2-4), it is essential that policy is coordinated to
    sustain the health of the research base as a whole, across all research disciplines. In
    particular, research policy should reflect the increasing importance of inter- and
    multidisciplinary research collaborations and the necessity of sustaining the breadth of
    the research base.

13. There appears to be a lack of sufficient coordination of policy and priorities across
    Government, and between central Government and funding agencies. We would urge
    the Government to ensure that high-level research policy is coordinated and consistent
    between different agencies. With regard to medical research in particular, following the
    creation of OSCHR, it may be appropriate to consider the extent to which the strategic
    coordination provided by OSCHR filters down to lower levels, and the extent of joined-up
    working between the MRC and the Department of Health. It is also unclear how well the
    respective departmental Chief Scientific Advisers (CSAs) work together and remains a
    matter of concern that some Government departments (notably the Treasury) have not
    appointed a CSA. We welcome the commitment of Professor John Beddington, the
    Government CSA, to ensure greater coherence of science professionals within
    government and to promote the importance of departmental CSAs.14

12
   Lord Drayson, Foundation for Science and Technology Lecture; Royal Society, London, 4th February 2009.
13
   For example, the House of Commons Innovation, Universities and Skills Select Committee observed that ‘in the
2007 allocations process the Government has had a significant influence on how this Science Budget will be spent.’
(Science Budget Allocations, 2008).
14
   House of Commons Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills, Minutes of Evidence, 12
December 2007.
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
14. UCL is also concerned that research commissioned by Government departments is not
    always funded at fEC rates, as noted by the RCUK/UUK review of fEC 15 which found that
    fEC recovery from Government departments was in the region of 75, rather than 100,
    per cent. The Review also found that ‘major differences exist between and within
    departments’. This points to a lack of coordination and clarity of policy within
    Government departments; in the case of fEC, this has significant consequences for the
    financial sustainability of university research. We echo the review’s recommendation
    that Government departments should support research at 100 per cent of fEC where
    universities are contracted as sole providers of research.

Is the balance of Government funding between targeted and curiosity-driven,
response-mode research appropriate? How will the current economic climate
change the way funds are allocated in the future?

15. We would suggest that this question establishes a false dichotomy between targeted and
    response-mode research by implying that curiosity-driven research is synonymous with
    response-mode funding. Undoubtedly, response-mode funding plays a vital role in
    supporting curiosity-driven research; however it should be emphasised that (in theory at
    least) targeted funding still presents many opportunities for curiosity-driven research.
    We would urge the Research Councils to ensure that a significant proportion of targeted
    funding is directed to curiosity-driven research, recognising that multiple responses will
    be needed to the challenges identified through targeted research funding. We are
    concerned that at the moment funding for targeted research appears to be too heavily
    weighted towards research that is very applied, disregarding the enormous importance
    of basic research to addressing targeted themes.

16. Additionally, it is important to recognise that response-mode funding is not the only
    mechanism by which curiosity-driven research can be supported; other means of doing
    so (such as funding for institutes, within which lead researchers have some discretion in
    how to allocate funds; institutional strategic development funds (often provided through
    QR funding); or large programme grants which include elements of curiosity-driven
    research) are also important. We would emphasise that it is essential that all Research
    Councils continue to offer a substantial proportion of response-mode funding as part of
    their portfolio and also that support for curiosity-driven research should not be limited to
    response-mode funding but should also be provided through other parts of their portfolio.

17. Research funding should strike an appropriate balance between investigator-driven
    research and needs-driven research, recognizing the importance of maintaining the UK’s
    research strengths across a broad disciplinary base. UCL agrees that it is appropriate to
    establish a number of broad themes that meet societal need (as our own Grand
    Challenges strategy does – see paragraphs 26-27 below) but emphasises that this
    should not mean over-heavy direction of research priorities or funding. Rather, such a
    strategy should recognise that addressing societal need requires multidisciplinary
    responses and that researchers themselves are best able to identify research needs or
    current research activity that is relevant to societal need.

18. UCL also emphasises its strong support for the dual support system. Public funding of
    research through the dual support system underpins the sustainability and dynamism of
    the UK research base, ensuring stable core funding combined with competitively-
    awarded project and programme funding. By providing distinct sources of funding for
    university research it ensures that there are multiple decision points for determining
    research funding. QR funding in particular is vital to provide the stable, un-
    hypothecated funding stream that enables universities to invest sustainably and flexibly
    in research activities and infrastructure. QR is also vital for facilitating strategic


15
     RCUK/UUK, Review of the Impact of Full Economic Costing on the UK Higher Education Sector, April 2009.
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
      investment, supporting emerging areas of research and curiosity-driven research, and
      underpinning or pump-priming other research grants, including those from business. We
      would emphasise that research funding policy in Government must maintain QR funding
      for universities.

19. We note recent indications from Government that they are considering increasing
    contestability in funding for universities, and emphasise that, although it is allocated as a
    block grant, QR funding is already contestable, allocated competitively according to
    research excellence, as determined by the RAE. Its allocation as a block grant
    distributed selectively both promotes research excellence16 and, importantly, enables
    universities to invest strategically and sustainably in their research. Crucially, allocating
    QR as a block grant to universities ensures that support is provided for all research,
    rather than ‘picking winners’ among particular research areas and directing funding
    primarily to those. With the increased focus on impact in the new Research Excellence
    Framework, it will be important to ensure that QR nevertheless continues to support
    curiosity-driven research and that funding allocations continue to be determined
    primarily by research excellence.

20. UCL is very concerned that the current economic climate will mean a reduction in
    funding for universities generally, and for research funding in particular, in future
    spending rounds. Whilst we recognize that there are significant economic pressures,
    we would urge that any reduction in research funding should be kept to an absolute
    minimum. In particular, it will be important to safeguard the ring-fenced science budget
    and QR funding (we note with concern that HEFCE are already planning a reduction in
    QR for 2010/11). Investment in research (and in universities more broadly) represents
    the way to stimulate economic recovery and ensure that the UK is able to fully benefit
    from recovery by continuing to support the most talented researchers and generate the
    best ideas. We would also emphasise that funding pressures should not mean greater
    top-down direction of research (or an undermining of the Haldane principle), which risks
    simply stifling the agility and creativity of the UK’s research base.

How is publicly-funded research aligned and coordinated with research that is not
publicly funded? How can industry be encouraged to participate in research
seeking to answer societal needs?

21. In recent years there has been greater coordination between charities and the Research
    Councils in offering large joint funding programmes17 and to a lesser extent, between
    Research Councils and business. This is a positive development in facilitating high-level
    alignment between strategic priorities in funding, although the importance of public and
    private funding for research operating as complementary but distinctive sources should
    also be noted. A recent report reaffirmed that public and private funding for research
    are complementary and that public funding stimulates further private investment in
    R&D18.

16
   Evidence shows that the dual support system has played a key role in achieving the resurgence of UK research of
the highest quality and that the RAE has driven up the quality of UK research since its introduction in the 1980s.
(See, for example: Evidence Ltd, The Role of Selectivity and the Characteristics of Excellence, 2000; Higher
Education Funding Council for England, Fundamental Review of Research Policy and Funding: Sub-group to consider
the nature and purpose of HEFCE funding: Final report, 2000; Higher Education Policy Institute, What future for Dual
Support?, 2004.) Successive RAE cycles have driven improvements “at all grades and across subject areas”
(Evidence Ltd, Impact of selective funding of research in England, and the specific outcomes of HEFCE research
funding (Report to HEFCE and the Department for Education and Skills), 2005).
17
   Examples include the ESPRC / Wellcome Trust joint funding for Centres of Excellence in Biomedical Engineering,
and the MRC / Wellcome Trust initiative in Neurodegeneration.
18
   The report found that a £1 increase in extra public medical research can lead to an increase in private R&D
spending of between £2.20 and £5.10. Evidence suggests that the effect of public funding in stimulating business
investment in R&D is strongest with regard to basic research, with evidence suggesting that a £1 investment leads to
£8.38 of further investment over eight years (Alzheimer’s Research Trust / Office of Health Economics, Forward
Together: Complementarity of public and charitable research with respect to private research spending, September
2009).
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
22. Fostering successful university-business research collaborations is the best way to
     ensure coordination between publicly-funded and industry-funded research, and to
     promote industry engagement in research seeking to answer societal needs. For
     example, UCL’s collaboration with the biopharmaceutical group Pfizer has secured
     funding and clinical expertise from Pfizer to support research to advance development of
     stem cell-based therapies for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) 19, and UCL’s spin-
     off company Pentraxin Therapeutics Ltd is collaborating with researchers from
     GlaxoSmithKline to develop the world’s first dual drug–antibody treatment for the rare
     and often fatal condition amyloidosis20. Other means of promoting industry engagement
     with university research include:
    - matched funding schemes for research collaborations;
    - support for venture capital funding;
    - support for proof-of-concept schemes within universities (such as the University
         Challenge Seed Funds);
    - minimising regulation to remove unnecessary barriers to collaboration.

23. Although the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) offers a valuable forum for promoting
    industry engagement with research, we are concerned that this has resulted in very few
    successful interactions and collaborations with universities – particularly given the large
    amounts of public funding (including some from the Research Councils which is
    therefore diverted from other budgets) channeled through the TSB. We would urge the
    TSB to give greater consideration to facilitating interactions between industry and
    universities; public funding for business research should be aimed at primarily
    incentivising increased business investment in research. It is important that the TSB
    considers the scope for innovation across the whole of the research landscape, including
    in the arts and humanities. Industry should also be incentivised to invest more directly in
    universities, for example in supporting post-doctoral researchers through relatively small
    grants (building on the successful model of the co-funded CASE studentships). This
    would be relatively inexpensive for industry but would ensure that they had access to
    leading-edge research and would be an important way of promoting university-business
    engagement.

24. Finally, we note that industry R&D budgets are vulnerable in a recession. The current
    economic downturn makes public funding of research all the more important as funding
    from industry may decrease; it will therefore be important to consider how research
    policy can stimulate future investment from industry following an upturn.

To what extent should publicly-funded science and technology research be
focused on areas of economic importance? How should these areas be identified?

25. We would caution against an over-emphasis on ‘economic importance’ in determining
    research funding and policy, not least because of the difficulties in determining what
    constitutes economic importance21 (and who should decide what is economically
    important). ‘Economic importance’ can and should be a broad term, incorporating
    everything from research which directly creates wealth, to global health research
    (because a healthy population is economically important), to research which improves
    quality of life, through to research which has cultural impact. Rather than thinking about
    ‘economic importance’ or trying to determine economically important areas of research
    when considering research policy, it may be helpful to consider broad areas of strategic


19
   http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0904/09042301
20
   http://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0903/09032401
21
   The recent draft summary report of the Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social
Progress highlighted the need to devise other measures, beyond GDP, which take account of a country’s wellbeing
and prosperity and suggested that a range of indicators covering equality, sustainability and health (among others)
should be developed to give a more sophisticated assessment. http://www.stiglitz-sen-
fitoussi.fr/documents/rapport_anglais.pdf
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
      importance to which research can contribute. A vital role for research is to address the
      global problems and challenges of the future; this necessitates identifying those areas
      where research can make a real and meaningful contribution and recognising that
      solutions will be multiple, varied in type, and will need to be drawn from across the
      discipline base.

26. UCL’s Grand Challenges strategy22 takes this approach, identifying key research themes
    to address global challenges, recognising that these require a multi-faceted,
    multidisciplinary response. The aim is for UCL to apply collective strengths, insights and
    creativity to generate new solutions to overcome problems of global significance. The
    Grand Challenges act as a synthesis for research across UCL’s multidisciplinary research
    strengths, harnessing expertise, promoting ways of working that transcend traditional
    disciplinary boundaries, and stimulating external partnerships.

27. The strategy ensures that UCL maintains a flexible and responsive research base so that,
    as a university, we are able to adapt to changing priorities and new challenges, building
    on our existing strengths and developing and enhancing new ones. The Grand
    Challenges do not, in themselves, drive UCL’s investment in research activity to any
    great extent (although some investment has been made in specific Grand Challenges
    initiatives) but rather harvest relevant research activity from across the institution to
    address challenges and provide solutions. Importantly, the Grand Challenges encourage
    and provide an opportunity for researchers themselves to think about how their work
    intersects with the Grand Challenges, rather than directing the scope or course of
    research.

28. It is important to distinguish between demonstrating the benefits of publicly-funded
    research through economic impact (as well as through other outcomes) on the one hand,
    and making funding and policy decisions based on economic impact or perceptions of
    economic importance on the other. Whilst highlighting the considerable economic
    benefits that result from undertaking research is important, to use this as a driver of
    policy (rather than an outcome) risks undermining the strength of our research base.
    Research policy must aim to support and secure the long-term health and sustainability
    of the research base, capitalising on our strengths, but not to steer research into areas
    of current economic importance (at the expense of others) which do not guarantee long-
    term success.

How does the UK science and technology research funding strategy compare with
that of other countries?

29. It should be remembered that research is a success story for the UK – we have
    universities and researchers that are among the best in the world, and we punch well
    above our weight. In addition to a strong research performance (with 1 per cent of the
    world’s population, the UK produces 9 per cent of publications and account for 12 per
    cent of citations and in terms of citation impact is ahead of the US in health, biology,
    environment and physical sciences23), the UK is number one in the G8 of advanced
    industrial nations for research productivity24 – a particularly good return given that the
    UK is ranked seventh in the G8 for public funding for research25. The UK’s research
    strategy therefore compares well with other countries in that it has secured us a position
    as a global leader in research and ensured that we are the most scientifically productive
    country in the G8.

22
   UCL’s Grand Challenges are: Global Health; Sustainable Cities; Intercultural Interactions; and Human Wellbeing.
See http://www.ucl.ac.uk/grand-challenges/.
23
   Evidence Ltd / Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, International comparative performance of the UK
research base, July 2008.
24
   Ibid.
25
   The UK spent 1.82% of GDP on R&D compared to an average of 2.24%, according to a study of 21 comparator
nations (Evidence Ltd / Office of Science and Innovation, PSA target metrics for the UK research base, 2007).
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House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009
30. That being said, there is no room for complacency. UK universities are relatively under-
    funded compared to our major international competitors, many of whom have made
    significant commitments to further increase investment in research and universities.26
    The UK is facing unprecedented competition as emerging and established competitor
    countries continue to make significant investments in research. China, India and South
    Korea, among others, have greatly increased the proportion of GDP spent on research27;
    Brazil is making record levels of investment in R&D28 and has become one of the fastest-
    growing countries in the world in terms of scientific publications. In addition, European
    peers are increasing their focus on strengthening research performance – with, for
    example, the Swedish Government’s commitment in October 2008 to increase R&D
    funding by 20 per cent over the next four years, and France’s introduction of a four-year
    national science and innovation strategy from March 2009.

31. The UK also compares poorly to international competitors in terms of the proportion of
    business investment in R&D29. Trends in business expenditure on R&D as a percentage
    of GDP over the past two decades show that the UK significantly lags behind the OECD
    average as well as spending by the US and Japan30. The Government has set a welcome
    target in the Science and Innovation Framework to spend 2.5 per cent of GDP on R&D
    by 2014; to meet this, increased investment from business will be necessary, as meeting
    the target from further public investment alone is not realistic (particularly given the
    current economic downturn).

32. The UK has a policy of allocating research funding selectively according to excellence
    which has delivered a resurgence in success for the research base. However, many of
    our international competitors are developing explicit strategies to concentrate resources
    to develop or sustain research-intensive universities, recognising their importance for
    world-class research and international competitiveness31. The UK may have to give
    serious consideration to how it will continue to sustain world-class research in our
    leading universities in the context of increasing global competition and pressure on
    resources.


We would be happy to discuss any of the points raised in this submission in more detail.




26
   In 2006 the UK invested 1.78 per cent of GDP in R&D - less than France (2.09 per cent), Germany (2.53 per cent),
Sweden (3.73 per cent), Japan (3.32 per cent in 2005), and the US (2.61 per cent (excluding capital expenditure)).
The UK’s investment is also below the figure for the EU as a whole (1.84 per cent) (Eurostat, Science, Technology
and Innovation in Europe: 2009 Edition, September 2009).
27
   Since 1999, China’s spending on R&D has increased by over 20% every year; China is now the second higher
investor in R&D in the world after the US, and aims to spend 2 per cent of GDP by 2010 and 2.5 per cent by 2020
(Demos, The Atlas of Ideas: China: The next science superpower?, 2007). India is rapidly increasing its science
budget (by 24% in 2005 and 16% in 2006) and aims to increase R&D expenditure from 0.8% of GDP to 2% of GDP
by 2011; in addition, is has established a $230 million National Science and Engineering Foundation for fundamental
research. Since 2000, South Korea’s R&D investment has grown from 2% to 3% of GDP – the 6th highest rate of
R&D investment in the world. In 2008, South Korea’s R&D spending increased by over 10% from the previous year
to 3.37% of GDP.
28
   Currently around 1% of GDP, to be increased to 1.5% by 2010, with a commitment to then maintain spending at
double 2006 levels.
29
   Currently, of the 1.76 per cent of GDP that the UK invests in R&D, 34 per cent is publicly-funded and 42 per cent is
spent by the business enterprise sector (DIUS, SET Statistics; http://dius.ecgroup.net/files/48-08-I_on.xls#'Table of
content'!A1.)
30
   Lord Sainsbury of Turville, The Race to the Top: a Review of Government’s Science and Innovation Policies, 2007;
Chart 2.1: international comparisons of BERD as a percentage of GDP.
31
   For example, Germany’s Excellence Initiative; China’s 211 and 985 projects; South Korea’s World-Class University
project and Taiwan’s increase in funding for its Academic Sinica Institution (around 12 per cent of the annual R&D
budget in 2009).
                                                                                                                     9
House of Lords Science & Technology Committee: Setting science and technology research funding priorities
Submission from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, UCL
September 2009

								
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