Willetts launches Research Council impact reports

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts has released a series of reports on the impact of Research Council funding during a speech at Policy Exchange, including a report from Research Councils UK and individual reports from the seven individual Research Councils.

David Willetts said: ‘These reports demonstrate that the UK is a world leader in science and research. From the development of groundbreaking new treatments to studies that shape public policy and improve lives, the significant economic and societal impact of the UK research base is extremely impressive.’


The reports detail how research has created wealth, improved society, increased the number of skilled individuals and promoted health and wellbeing. Examples range from the development of a new form of broccoli to informing defence policy in Afghanistan.


Research Councils UK (RCUK) is the strategic partnership of the UK’s seven Research Councils who annually invest around £3 billion in research. It supports excellent research, as judged by peer review, that has an impact on the growth, prosperity and wellbeing of the UK.


The RCUK report details the various activities through which the Research Councils are working together to achieve greater impact. This includes collaboration with partners in key commercial sectors, the Technology Strategy Board and governmental departments. A copy of the RCUK Impact Report 2011 is available  at: LINK


The remaining seven reports detail how each council is supporting research and science and contain excellent case studies of the impact this research has had on the economy and science.


Examples from the reports include:

· AHRC: An AHRC-funded research project let to a team researching and communicating the history of Birmingham’s suburbs, resulting in new public exhibitions being developed at the Birmingham Museum.

· BBSRC: Beneforte Broccoli, developed from BBSRC-funded research at the Institute of Food Research and the John Innes Centre boosts the body’s antioxidant enzyme levels.

· EPSRC: Autonomy, an EPSRC spin-out company, was started by Dr Mike Lynch at Cambridge University in 1996 and sold to Hewlett Packard in August 2011 for over £7bn.

· ESRC: Professor Theo Farrell undertook an assessment of the British Army’s performance in Operation Moshtarak, a 2010 offensive in southern Afghanistan. The resulting classified report informed doctrine development and pre-deployment training.

· MRC: Humira® that was created by Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT) using technology licensed from MRC and is now estimated to be the world’s top earning pharmaceutical product, expected to reach $10bn in sales by 2016.

· NERC: The NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) was critical in demonstrating that Sea turbines can be deployed without harm to sea mammals. This will allow 500-1000 tidal turbines to be deployed confidently in UK waters by 2020, potentially generating £150m to £1bn per annum for the UK economy by 2050.

· STFC: STFC researchers have confirmed the most remote galaxy in the Universe observed to date and seen how it would have appeared 13.1 billion years ago only 600 million years after the Big Bang.


The AHRC Impact Report can be accessed at: LINK


The ESRC Impact Report can be accessed at: LINK



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