The UK has a world class university system, which produces internationally recognised research. Yet we do not necessarily see this output translated into economic gain. More can be done to bring businesses and universities together, in order to realise the economic benefits from our fundamental research. Business-university collaboration offers businesses access to cutting-edge research, high-tech infrastructure and highly skilled people, while giving universities an opportunity to develop their applied research and demonstrate the impact of their work.
The Catapult network has been a valuable addition to the mechanisms available to help commercialise research in the UK, as has Innovate UK itself. Continued support for both is required if the benefits of their work are to be fully achieved. The Government should prioritise further funding for these, and respond thoughtfully to the recommendations of the recent Hauser Catapult review when considering how the work of these centres should be developed.
A range of initiatives exist, or are in development, to improve information flows between universities and business and to provide spaces for collaboration to take place. If we are to capitalise on our strengths across the UK, a coordinated strategy is needed. Care is required to ensure that new initiatives add value to the existing system, rather than creating unnecessary complexity. We must also ensure that changes to funding structures, such as the Research Excellence Framework, do not shift resources away from the fundamental research which underpins the UK's innovation system.
Furthermore, nurturing the innovation system long-term requires ambitious goals for the sector and stable innovation support systems. We expect the Science and Innovation Strategy to deliver both. We urge the Government to aim for 3 per cent of GDP to be spent on research and development (R&D) by 2020. We also recommend that Government continues to protect the science budget and maintain, if not improve, funding for science and innovation in the next Spending Review.