Independent report

Terms of Reference: Review of the research, development and innovation organisational landscape

Updated 22 November 2023


The UK is home to many world-class research, development and innovation (RDI) organisations and has a strong reputation for the quality of its research. The QS World University Rankings shows that UK universities are globally recognised, with 4 providers in the top 10 and 18 providers in the top 100, and the UK also has internationally renowned research institutes. This research translates into practical outcomes such as the COVID-19 vaccine, partly developed as a result of the UK’s strength in scientific and medical research. We need to build on and retain these strengths.

However, the world is changing fast with competitive advantage in RDI increasingly contested. The UK government is committed to securing and advancing the UK’s status as a global science superpower and leader in new fields of research and cutting-edge technologies. The UK government wants to build on the manifest strengths of the RDI system across the UK and nurture its diversity, ranging from the pipeline of pioneering, visionary blue-skies research through to practical support for innovators to commercialise their ideas.

This will generate a RDI system that drives UK government initiatives to improve the nation’s health and quality of people’s lives, protect the environment and the natural world, and promote industries that attract substantial amounts of investment, underpinned by highly innovative discovery research and UK leadership in international research collaborations.


The goals of the Review are to:

  • explore the features and characteristics in the existing ecosystem of RDI-performing organisations across the UK, learning from the best in the world and drawing on transformative examples
  • identify whether improvements to the organisational research landscape are required to deliver the government’s objective for the UK to be a science superpower at the forefront of critical and emerging fields of science and technology, and drive economic growth and societal benefit
  • futureproof the UK landscape of organisations undertaking all forms of RDI, from pioneering, visionary blue-skies research to practical support for innovators to commercialise or implement their ideas, and ensure an agile and sustainable system that can respond to future priorities and developments

Purpose and scope

The Review will consider the full and varied policy and funding context within which RDI-performing organisations are set up and operate. The Review is focused on the landscape of organisations that deliver research rather than on mechanisms for funding research and will:

  • analyse how the various organisations that contribute to the ecosystem of RDI-performing organisations across different parts of the UK – including universities, institutes and laboratories, across UK government and the devolved administrations, public, private and non-profit sectors – compare to each other and that of other countries with strengths in RDI
  • learning from international examples, consider the role that different mixes of organisations can play in delivering economic and societal impact from RDI, and the mechanisms and business models that will best enable the UK to capitalise on emerging and new fields of science and invention
  • consider how best to secure an organisational landscape now and in the future that delivers high-quality RDI outputs, and which is sustainable and cost-effective
  • consider options to support the UK’s strengths and what targeted interventions in the public sector might enhance the quality and diverse mix of RDI-performing organisations through our policy framework and the policies of the devolved administrations


The Review will publish a final report in Spring 2022.


  • the Review will report to the UK government’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
  • the Review will be supported by a secretariat within BEIS, a wider advisory group, with diverse representation from key experts, and stakeholders in the research system and industry, across the UK and internationally
  • the Review will work closely with the Welsh Government, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the landscape of organisations for which those governments are responsible, respecting the devolved nature of areas of responsibility within this landscape. Lead reviewer Sir Paul Nurse will consult with ministers from the devolved administrations during the review and the team will meet with officials and Chief Scientific Advisers from the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive
  • the UK government will work closely with the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and Northern Ireland Executive to agree a response to the Review, with each devolved administration setting out their response to the areas on which they lead
  • in conducting investigations and making recommendations, the Review will take account of the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty