Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the seven UK Research Councils.
By supporting excellent research, giving investment in research and facilitating links with business and industry, RCUK helps to ensure that the UK is a world leader in a global market and able to compete in the international economy.
As the UK fights to recover from the economic recession, meet climate change targets and provide groundbreaking healthcare, Chair of RCUK Professor Alan Thorpe believes that investment in research is the key to achieving these goals. He says: ?Investment in research is the only way to find our way through the economic difficulties, reduce the pressure on natural resources and meet the challenges of ill health. It is essential that we continue to have investment in research in the UK if we are to find the solutions to these problems.?
Each year, RCUK investment in research is £3bn covering the full spectrum of academic disciplines, including the medical and biological sciences, physical, mathematical and engineering sciences, social sciences, economics, environmental sciences and the arts and humanities.
The RCUK Framework for the Future (www.rcuk.ac.uk/framework) highlights the areas for investment in research that will enable the UK to have a productive economy, healthy society and contribute to a sustainable world.
Over the past 50 years research and investment in research has given us some of the most important discoveries and inventions that make our lives what they are today. For example, in 1973 Sir Peter Mansfield used MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) to image soft tissue for the first time. Jump ahead to 2010 and because of this research, MRI scanners are now being used in hospitals around the world and researchers are continuing to develop MRI techniques including improving breast screening and speeding up diagnoses.
In 1973, two researchers developed the technology that eventually gave us the mobile phone. George Gray invented the first stable liquid crystal displays and Peter Wright developed the first solid polymer electrolyte ? the forerunner of the mobile phone battery. By 2004, over one billion mobile phones were being sold every year and investment in research is ongoing to improve mobile phones, including software that helps people with chronic illnesses to manage their healthcare.
Research has also helped us combat the effects of an ever-changing environment. Our summers are now wetter than ever, bringing with them an increased risk of flooding. One of the impacts of investment in research that helped protect our environment is the development of the Thames Barrier which protects London and the surrounding areas from serious flooding.
In 1953, disastrous flooding on the east coast of the Thames claimed 300 lives and so the next 50 years saw investment in research and UK researchers working to ensure this did not happen again. Work on building the barrier began in 1972 and today it is valued at £30bn and continues to protect the population of London.
Further RCUK-funded research that has had a direct impact on the UK economy includes game theory research, which resulted in £22.4bn revenue to the UK government from 3G licence sales, equivalent to 2.5% of GNP, or enough to build 400 new hospitals.
CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, believes investment in research is key to economic success and says: ?Science and technology is the backbone for productivity and innovation; not always information technology, but science and technology has been a driver of economic success.?
Research supported by RCUK has been essential to the advancement of medicine and healthcare. For example, between 1985 and 2005, interventions arising from cardiovascular disease research have delivered a health gain to the UK of £53bn and sustained investment in research for pharmacuticals means the UK is prepared to respond to influenza pandemics such as the swine flu in 2009.
We only have one world and investment in research that looks at ways to protect it is essential if we are to preserve the environment for generations to come. In the early 1980s, UK research was responsible for discovering the hole in the ozone layer and provided essential evidence that led to a ban on CFCs and subsequent closing of the hole. Today, investment in research into climate change and energy-efficient technologies continue to be funded by RCUK including new LED technology for lighting which will cut carbon emissions by 23 million tonnes and slash household lighting bills by 25%.
RCUK will continue to ensure that public investment in research focuses on areas that have an impact on, and relevance to, our world today and in the future. Research is continuous and developments in one area can lead to advances in others that were perhaps not foreseen at the start of the process. By ensuring there is investment in research and bringing together world-leading researchers from across disciplines, RCUK will help to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of innovative solutions to global problems.
More information about the RCUK Framework for the Future: Excellence with Impact, visit:
For more information on RCUK, contact:
Tel: 01793 444592
Research Councils UK
Research Councils UK is the strategic partnership of the UK?s seven Research Councils:
Added the 27 April 2010 in category Innovation UK Vol6-1