Research and Innovation System

The graph below illustrates the strengths and weaknesses of the UK R&I system. Clockwise, it gives information on human resources, scientific production, technology valorisation and innovation. Average annual growth rates from 2000 to the latest available year are given in brackets.


As a whole, the UK R&I system performs above the EU average, with strengths in the quality of research, but weaknesses in the introduction of innovations to the market. The proportion of human resources in science and technology as a share of the UK labour-force is above the EU average, and has risen since 2006. High numbers of highly qualified UK-educated researchers are resident in other OECD countries, associated with the circulation of high-level human resources. On research infrastructures, the UK recognises that investment in world-class infrastructure is a prerequisite for world-class research: it hosts a large number of national and international facilities and is involved in many facilities in Europe and the rest of the world. Regarding universities, greater emphasis has been placed recently on stimulating their engagement with businesses and local communities, with a Higher Education Investment Fund as the main policy stimulus.

Knowledge transfer from the research base to business is a UK policy priority, with several initiatives providing funding to stimulate collaborative research and inter-sectorial mobility or supporting the creation of university and public-sector spinouts. Sectorial support is strongly focused on advanced manufacturing, covering vocational skills education, apprenticeships, high-value manufacturing technology innovation accelerators (“Catapults”), incentive prizes, fellowships and advisory services. Life sciences also attract particular support via a Biomedical Catalyst Fund. Overall, public-private partnerships are becoming more significant, particularly in the mobilisation of risk and venture financing, growth capital and other forms of support. Many support measures engage industry in co-funding initiatives, especially in programmes addressing major socioeconomic challenges (“research & technology clubs”) and cross-cutting technology sectors. 58% of businesses were innovation-active between 2006 and 2008 (UK Innovation Survey, 2009).