Letter from Rt Hon John Denham MP, Secretary
of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills
Thank you for your letter of 30 March on UK
Government investment through the Science and Research
Budget has more than doubled in real terms from £1.3 billion
in 1997-98 to £3.6 billion in 2008-09. Government support
for the UK's research base is at its highest ever level and will
enable the UK to maintain its leading position in research excellence,
whilst stronger exploitation of research will help to build a
Against this background, recent speeches by
the Prime Minister, Lord Drayson and I have looked at how the
research base can help the future UK economy. Lord Drayson wrote
to the Research Councils, Funding Councils and National Academies,
seeking their views on how the country can get the greatest benefits
from the Government's sustained investment in research.
In response, the Research Councils, HEFCE and
the TSB held a conference on 6 April, where I understand that
they discussed a range of proposals with a wide audience. The
results were published and have been sent to Lord Drayson (http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/research/future.htm).
In the Budget, £106 million of savings were identified, which
will be reinvested within the Science and Research Budget to support
key areas of economic potential.
This has been an extremely valuable exercise,
setting out the future direction without threatening fundamental
curiosity-driven research. I look forward to seeing Research Council
priorities as they are developed further.
This is not the end of the issueLord
Drayson and I would like the community to remain alert to further
opportunities. Indeed Lord Drayson recently met universities and
business from the CBI membership where they discussed research
The Government remains committed to funding
a broad base of fundamental and applied research. Alongside this,
Lord Drayson and would like to see the community maintain the
debate about research priorities, so that it becomes part of the
culture of a healthy UK research base.