19 May 2016   |   News

UK to merge research and innovation in a single agency with £6B budget

The new body will absorb seven research councils, covering all scientific disciplines, and the innovation agency Innovate UK, with the aim of creating integrated funding system

The UK government is to create a single research funding body, bringing together seven research councils, the innovation agency Innovate UK and research funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.  

The new body, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will command a £6 billion budget.

The aim is to make it easier to fund cross-disciplinary studies and create an integrated research and innovation system.

UKRI is supposed to ensure greater co-ordination on science investment and greater engagement from politicians. However, there is some concern its organisation will give politicians too much influence over research priorities. 

In future, ministers will be able to set the budget for UKRI and will retain the ability to provide high level direction as to the allocation of funding for research and innovation. 

Currently, public funding of R&D operates under the Haldane principle, which holds that the government fixes the budget, but the research councils are free to decide how the money is spent.

The new arrangement was recommended by Royal Society president and Nobel Laureate Paul Nurse in a review published last November. However, the government did not follow his advice to create a new ministerial committee to oversee UKRI.

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