Overview of the UK research & innovation funding landscape
The UK research and innovation (R&I) funding landscape is diverse, drawing investment from government, business (domestic and overseas) and charities. The funding available for research, innovation and knowledge exchange activity is dependent on the type of organisation and activity being undertaken.
Publically funded research
The UK R&I public funding system is known as the ‘dual support’ system for its balance of long term flexible investment ‘Performance based formulae funding’ and ‘Project and Strategic Investment Funding.’ R&I-performing organisations not classified as a university can also access public funds through project and strategic investment funding.
Performance based formulae funding
The UK funding bodies in the four UK nations administer the performance based formulae funding provided to UK universities. This provides universities with flexible funding to pursue their research and knowledge exchange related strategic priorities and support underpinning capability and capacity in the research system. Only UK universities are eligible.
Project and Strategic Investment Funding
Project funding is provided by charities, government departments, non-departmental public bodies (e.g. UK Research and Innovation: UKRI) and international organisations (e.g. European Commission). Eligibility to apply for project funding is determined by the organisation providing it and is a significant source of investment for all R&I-performing organisations (not just universities).
- Academic and innovation programme and project grants are awarded by competition in specific disciplines, innovation areas, challenges or to address strategic capability need e.g. infrastructure award is based on expert peer review.
- Investments in specific types of infrastructure or capability programmes may also include a focussed element of flexible block grant.
Private funding in UK research
A substantial amount of investment in R&I comes from the private sector in the UK and internationally. This can take a variety of forms, from a company investing in its own R&I to raising investment through private collaborations and equity investments.
Public and private R&I-performing organisations often collaborate in the delivery of basic research as well as close-to-market innovations, bringing public and private funds together. Private R&I-performing organisations in the UK can also access public funds directly through government and non-departmental public body schemes e.g. UKRI-Innovate UK.