The UK Government recently restated its commitment to significantly boost public research and development (R&D) funding. But while the news of extra funding is welcome, we need to see this paired with a bold and ambitious rebalancing of public spending that will promote prosperity for the long term, make the UK a global innovation leader, and bring about real improvements to people’s lives.

What's the problem?

Current spending priorities and policies aren’t working for the economy or society:

  • Too much is spent on London and the south-east, entrenching regional disparities and meaning that R&D is disproportionately happening in places that are unrepresentative of wider society.
  • Too much is spent on basic research, which means money is often spent on what researchers are interested in studying, rather than funding solutions to the problems that either the public think are important or that society needs solving.
  • Too little is spent on innovation support. This is likely to be one of the reasons why R&D investment is not leading to gains in productivity - and so living standards. If businesses do not innovate - by adopting the outcomes of R&D or translating research into products and services - we are unlikely to see economic benefits.

What’s the solution?

Nesta is calling for the government to devolve R&D funding to local areas, promote mission-based approaches and expand innovation support, to address imbalances across the system.

By protecting international collaboration and immigration, prioritising the safe adoption of emerging technology and encouraging business innovation across the economy, it can create an environment where ideas can come to life and benefit everyone.

Find out more about our recommendations on how to rebalance public innovation spending by exploring the blogs below.