In June 2023, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) launched an ambitious move to revolutionise research and innovation funding by establishing the Innovation and Research Caucus (IRC). This initiative, backed by a £7 million investment, signifies UKRI’s commitment to elevating the United Kingdom as a global leader in research excellence. The IRC aims to become a world-leading centre of excellence, shaping the future of research and innovation through evidence-based strategies and investments.

The IRC is conceptualised as a think tank and strategic unit within UKRI, dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness and impact of research and innovation funding. Its establishment responds to the growing need for a more evidence-driven approach in funding decisions, ensuring that investments are aligned with both national and global research priorities. The IRC will serve as a hub for gathering, analysing, and utilising robust evidence and insights, directly influencing UKRI’s strategic direction over the next three years.

The creation of the IRC is also a response to the rapidly evolving research landscape, marked by emerging technologies and interdisciplinary challenges. By harnessing data and insights, the IRC aims to foster more informed and agile decision-making within UKRI, enhancing its ability to respond to new opportunities and challenges in the research domain.

The IRC’s mission goes beyond merely optimising funding strategies. It is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the future of UK research and innovation, driving forward-thinking policies and initiatives. This includes identifying emerging research areas, fostering collaborations across disciplines, and ensuring that UK research remains at the cutting edge of global innovation.

The benefits of such an approach are wide ranging. For researchers and business, it promises more strategic and targeted funding opportunities, aligning with the latest trends and needs in various fields. For the wider society, it translates into research that can effectively address societal challenges, from healthcare breakthroughs to technological advancements.

Implementing such a visionary project is not without its challenges. The IRC has to navigate the complexities of the diverse research landscape, ensuring its recommendations are inclusive and representative of the entire research community. Looking ahead, the success of the IRC will depend on its ability to remain adaptive, inclusive, and forward-looking, setting a global standard in research and innovation funding strategy.

The establishment of the IRC marked a transformative step for UK research. By prioritising evidence-based strategies and foresight, UKRI is not just enhancing its funding mechanisms; it is positioning the UK as a visionary leader in global research and innovation, ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

For more information about the IRC please visit: UKRI’s Innovation & Research Caucus