Nesta responds to Science and Technology Committee Research and Development report
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Nesta in particular:

  • Welcomes the recognition of the need for greater evaluation of the effectiveness of research and innovation spending, by investing in new data sources and analysis techniques beyond traditional measures such as patents and publications.
    • Nesta has been investing in innovation mapping tools that can provide a more granular and up to date picture of innovation in the economy, and is advocating for greater use of big data in this area.
    • Nesta is building the evidence base for research and innovation policy, by promoting experimentation with different policy solutions and rigorously evaluating them through methods like Randomised Control Trials
  • Echoes the committee’s call for UK Research and Innovation to re-consider the balance of its R&D funding across different disciplines and locations of research and innovation investment.
    • In 2018 Nesta published The Biomedical Bubble, which argues that the UK needs to broaden its focus away from biomedical research if it is to realise the economic, social and health potential of new investment in research and development.
    • Nesta has previously called for a stronger link between the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and the Government’s Grand Challenges alongside a review of the Fund’s activity to make sure it is truly challenge-led.

Nesta’s written and oral evidence is cited throughout the Committee’s report, including within its recommendations.

Jen Rae, Nesta’s Head of UK Innovation Policy, said:

“As shown in Nesta’s biomedical bubble report, for many years UK R&D spending has prioritised biomedical research but as funding has grown, the productivity of that investment has declined. It’s great to see the Committee recognise this as a ‘compelling’ case for UKRI to re-consider the balance of R&D funding across research disciplines and geography.

“The Committee’s recommendation to significantly expand the Strength in Places Fund is also welcome. The current fund has been a start but much more is needed to really support those areas who have the potential to provide research and innovation excellence in the future. This means additional funding but we think it’s time to go further - to consider devolving parts of the Government’s R&D budget to cities and regions to allow them to best support their regional research and innovation strengths.

“One answer to this geographical imbalance of R&D has also been recognised by the Committee: organisations such as UKRI should be investing in new data techniques and analysis to build a much more nuanced, accurate and timely picture of research and innovation ‘excellence’ throughout the UK. Nesta has been experimenting with these innovation mapping tools in Wales and Scotland, and for sectors such as the immersive economy and AI. We think they can play a vital part in reshaping investment to support emerging industries and parts of the country where it can have the greatest effect.”


Press contact - Will Hoyles, 07812 362714, 020 7438 2543, [email protected]

Nesta_Press [email protected]

Greg Falconer, Nesta’s Director of Innoation Policy and Jen Rae, Head of UK Innovation Policy, are London-based and available for interview.

The Science and Technology report of their enquiry ‘Balance and effectiveness of research and innovation spending’ is available here -

Nesta’s submission to the enquiry can be found here - and

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