This week has seen the launch of some key initiatives from the Research Councils (RCs). The first is the publication of the application and success rates by age and gender for each of the RCs with a commentary to add context. This forms part of the Equality and Diversity Strategy for RCUK and these tables will be updated annually. The second initiative has been the launch of the Research Innovate Grow message to highlight the key role the RCs play in ensuring the UK remains the best place in the world to do research, innovate and grow business.

Therefore the Research Councils collectively are absolutely committed to:

  • shaping a world-leading research base with strength across disciplines
  • accelerating innovation and impact from this excellent research base
  • collaborating and co-investing with Innovate UK and other partners in the research and innovation ecosystem including universities and businesses large and small
  • driving new multidisciplinary research programmes
  • working together to maximise impact and further drive efficiency

In order to do this it is really important that there is sustained long-term investment in the research base which can best leverage the UK’s position at the centre of the global research network as well as realising the full potential of the UK innovation ecosystem.

There are some key facts of which the UK research base should be rightly proud:

  • The UK has 1% of the global population and only 3% of global funding for research yet produces 16% of the world’s most highly cited papers
  • Almost half of research articles published by UK researchers have international co-authors
  • Four of the world’s top 10 universities are in the UK
  • RCUK funded researchers are more likely to collaborate with business than those funded through any other route
  • The Research Councils co-deliver research and innovation with more than 2,500 businesses

The third initiative is the publication this week of a new analysis of impact case studies from the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) which shows that research carried out by the UK’s universities has wide and varied benefits to the economy, society, culture, policy, health, the environment and quality of life, within the UK and overseas.

The analysis published today was carried out by Digital Science and co-funded by the UK higher education funding bodies, Research Councils UK (RCUK) and the Wellcome Trust and was enabled because in 2014 universities participating in REF were invited for the first time to provide examples of the wider impact of their research as part of their submissions. The analysis has produced the REF impact case study database, a searchable tool enabling analysis and automated text mining of the case studies. The database will encourage and enable further analysis of the case studies by any interested parties in the UK and internationally and I would certainly encourage anyone interested to look at the data to do so.

Since becoming CE of BBSRC and Impact Champion for RCUK, I have been amazed by the breadth and depth of the impact both short and long term, that RC investment has made possible both alone and with other partners. We will be putting slides with the Research Innovate Grow data on the RCUK website shortly along with some great impact stories from all the RCs and which show impact from economic growth to policy.  Please feel free to use when they are posted and give us feedback on the content.

Lastly I am really pleased that Sir Gordon Duff is to be our new Chair of Council when Sir Tom Blundell steps down in the summer. The BBSRC is extremely lucky to have such experienced individuals willing to take such important roles in our organisation.

As we are now entering the phase quaintly called purdah ie. the pre-election period between now and the formation of the next Government (originally I have read that the term was a practice, for religious and social reasons, of female seclusion ie. the practice of preventing men from seeing women!) this means no blogging from me for the next six weeks although I will still be interacting with all genders!. Therefore I wish you all a, slightly early, Happy Easter Holiday break if you are taking one and look forward to reconnecting in May.

Related posts (based on tags and chronology):