Setting priorities for publicly funded research - Science and Technology Committee Contents



Public funding for research is channelled through a diverse range of different mechanisms to support the pursuit of knowledge and its translation into practical applications for the benefit of society (see Table).

Summary of the public funding mechanisms to support research and development in the UK
MechanismBudget* (Millions) Notes
"Science and research budget" £3,970* (09/10) Ring-fenced funding allocated (by BIS) to
  • research councils; and
  • national academies

on the basis of prospective and retrospective performance assessments; and

  • to cover large facilities' capital costs.

Research councils and national academies themselves determine allocations to projects and individuals using the primary criterion of excellence as assessed through peer review.

Higher Education Funding Councils England £1,785* (10/11)


£79.5 **



£240.4 *** (09/10)

Northern Ireland



Funding allocated to HEFCs (for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, by either BIS or the relevant devolved administration).

Allocated (by the relevant organisation) to higher education institutions as block grants to support research and capital costs, through periodic retrospective assessments of higher education institutions' research activity, using the primary criterion of excellence. (The assessment was formerly known as the Research Assessment Exercise; its proposed replacement, the Research Excellence Framework, was recently subject to consultation.)

Government departments Civil departments £1,294* (07/08)

Defence £2,139* (07/08)

Part of each department's annual budget/expenditure.

Only Health's is ring-fenced and therefore discrete.

Allocated by support research that underpins the department's policy objectives, using the primary criterion of policy need.

Technology Strategy Board £289*


Funding is allocated to the TSB to catalyse business innovation in the areas identified as offering the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity.
Regional development agencies >£300‡ (08/09) Allocated to RDAs for research to support regional development strategies.
R&D Tax Credits £820*

(08-09 forecast)

Tax incentives to support private-sector investment in research and development, through either payable credits or tax relief.
UK Innovation Investment Fund £325* (available 2010) Funding available (as part of Strategic Investment Fund) to invest in companies in strategically important UK sectors through specialised, private-sector technology funds, in order to stimulate investment in high-growth businesses and create high-skill jobs.

Allocated through open competition by contracted fund managers.

Small Business Research Initiative £12* through TSB


Funding available through Government contracts for small businesses with ideas and new technologies to meet specified needs within Government departments.

Administered through open competition by the TSB.

Patent BoxAvailable from 2013 Tax incentive offering a reduced (10 per cent) rate of corporation tax for companies that develop patents registered in the UK into innovations within the UK.

* all figures for latest available year (pp 22-4)

** Higher Education Funding Council for Wales: Circular W10/10HE—Recurrent Grant 2010/11

*** Scottish Funding Council: Circular SFC/14a/2009

† Department for Education and Learning in Northern Ireland: Quality-related Research (QR) Funding, Table 1:

‡ Annual Innovation Report (2009), BIS, February 2010

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