AIRTO welcomes government’s report on future frameworks for international collaboration

AIRTO (the Association for Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations) welcomes the government’s recent report, ‘Changes and choices: Future frameworks for international collaboration on research and innovation’. Commissioned by BEIS, Professor Sir Adrian Smith together with Professor Graeme Reid have provided independent advice on the design of future UK funding schemes for international collaboration, innovation and research. AIRTO strongly supports the message that investment and support to UK research and innovation is paramount to the UK being a world-leading research nation and a ‘science superpower’. We welcome the authors’ reinforcement of the UK’s approach to international collaboration on science. The UK’s Innovation, Research & Technology (IRT) sector, which AIRTO represents, is truly global in its reach and represents a significant leverage opportunity. Continued international collaboration is essential for our sector to thrive, and to anchor foreign direct investment in industrial R&D in the UK.

We particularly welcome new initiatives identified in the report as the UK continues to work towards the target of lifting R&D levels to the 2.4% GDP. For example, investment in skills is something AIRTO has previously called for in our Position Statement on ‘Gearing up to 2.4%’. It is paramount that the UK continues to attract and retain the best talent, and a specific Global Talent Strategy to focus on this would be beneficial. Both the increase in overall investment and the specific investment in skills which are called for in this report are echoed in AIRTO’s Position Statement pinpointing six critical levers for government. Stability in funding is needed for international collaboration, coupled with greater agility, in order to capitalise on fast-moving and unexpected opportunities, allowing the UK to maximise value from its investment in world-class research. The new funding streams proposed in the report, in particular those intended to fund collaboration with international industry, would give flexibility to help achieve this.

AIRTO acknowledges that detailed planning will be required in the follow up to this report and would be keen to play a role along with other relevant stakeholders in this work.

Commenting on the report, AIRTO’s President, Professor Richard Brook OBE FREng, said:

“We should like to see the government leverage the Innovation, Research and Technology sector even further to boost our capacity to deliver R&D services for international industry, thereby stimulating private investment and creating more highly skilled jobs for UKplc.”

 About AIRTO

AIRTO is the representative body for the innovation sector in the UK. Its membership comprises sixty of the principle organisations operating in the UK’s Innovation, Research and Technology (IRT) Sector. The IRT sector has a combined turnover of £6.9 billion per annum, employing over 57,000 scientific and technical staff. The sector contributes £34 billion to UK GDP per annum. AIRTO’s Members interface with industry and academia, working for both private and public sector clients. Members include not-for-profit and private sector Research and Technology Organisations (including Catapult Centres), government laboratories and some university enterprise offices. Members are an essential part of the UK’s infrastructure for innovation, accelerating research outcomes and the exploitation of new products and services, and training significant numbers of staff at a wide range of educational levels.

For further information, please contact:

Dr Jane Gate, Executive Director: