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Time for industry to come to the party

The UK research base goes on getting better. So why is research investment low and still falling? Jonathan Adams explains.

The UK’s average research impact now surpasses that of the US. As our latest global research report United Kingdom Materials Science and Technology sets out, the UK spends 4 per cent of the world’s gross expenditure on R&D (Gerd). But that supports 6 per cent of the world’s researchers. They write 8 per cent of the world’s research articles and reviews; attract 11 per cent of the world’s citations and create 14 per cent of the world’s highly cited output. These exceptional articles include 17 per cent of the world’s research papers with more than 500 citations and 20 per cent of those with more than 1,000 citations.

As the then UK chief scientist Bob May pointed out in 1998, you cannot beat a university-based research system for efficiency, effectiveness and excellence. The UK looked good then and, despite still being relatively underfunded compared with the best international competitors, it looks better now.

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