Research and analysis

Big science and innovation

Presents the findings of a study of large research facilities and their impact on innovation.



This report explores the role of large scientific research facilities in the UK and how they work with the innovation system, in the context of reduced capital funding (money allocated for fixed assets) in the government’s Spending Review 2010.

Large facilities are types of research facilities that combine large investments in state of the art equipment and associated infrastructure, often with large and highly-skilled operational support teams and related services. They are important tools for science, central to our ability to push the boundaries of what we know.

Large facilities range from single sites like the Central Laser Facility to virtual labs like the Economic and Social Data Services.

This report provide a list of UK large facilities, and shows their important role in the national science and innovation system. It shows the substantial benefits that these large facilities bring to society, including:

  • innovation required in their actual construction due to their cutting-edge nature
  • marketable benefits such as patents and licenses
  • non-marketable benefits such as new knowledge