We responded to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills consultation on Science and research: proposals for long-term capital investment. We said::
- Given the importance of sustained investment in the higher education sector to ensure a world-class research environment, we would recommend that the balance of funding is weighted towards funding through the Research Councils and the Higher Education funding bodies, with a smaller proportion given to large-scale capital projects at a national and international level. We would favour Scenario 1 in the three scenarios set out in the consultation document.
- To allow charities to continue to fund research within UK universities, it is crucial that any consideration of capital funding for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) should assess how they need to support charity-funded research in the UK, with a view to either increasing HEIs capital funding or to increase the size of the Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF) Element of QR funding to meet this shortfall.
- Research capital is also supported by the Department of Health, through the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). These budgets must also be sustained to allow the NHS to act as a “well-found lab” for clinical research.
- Big data projects such as long-term cohort studies and biobanks are crucial for medical research, but they are expensive to set-up and run, and most charities are unable to provide long-term investment for this kind of research infrastructure. There is a real need for a nationwide, fully-funded infrastructure for biobanks funded in partnership between the public sector, charities and industry.