Reinventing research and innovation in the UK: levelling up and lessons from COVID-19



  • Naomi Fulop


  • Richard Jones, Professor of Materials Physics and Innovation Policy, University of Manchester; and
  • Nigel Edwards, CEO, The Nuffield Trust

This is a time of profound change for research and innovation policy in the UK.  The government had set out its ambitions to more or less double public investment in R&D by 2024/25 and to “level up” research and innovation across the UK, which has the most unequal geographic distributions of research capacity in Europe with disproportionate levels of R&D spending in London, the east of England and the south east, compared to areas like the south west, the north east, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Then, the pandemic happened. Research is one area where the UK response to COVID19 is seen as having been successful – and widely praised internationally. But what did the pandemic reveal about research in the UK: were its priorities well-balanced? Looking beyond the pandemic, how might NHS research priorities develop in order to ensure they suitably reflect the needs of society across the UK?