Uplift for Research England Quality-related Research funding to support the Government's 2.4% commitment to R&D

Uplift for Research England Quality-related Research funding to support the Government's 2.4% commitment to R&D

Research England has published overall budgets for university research and knowledge exchange for the year 2019-20. Research England will invest an additional £91 million in funding for research and knowledge exchange in English universities for the year 2019-20, bringing the full investment for 2019-20 to nearly £2.2 billion.

This extra investment will accelerate support towards the UK Government’s commitment to boost spending on research and development to 2.4% of GDP by 2027. The increased funding comes from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), supporting universities to implement the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Of the £91 million:

  • £45m will be allocated to mainstream Quality-related Research (QR) funding. QR funding is Research England’s largest funding stream and plays a core role in universities, allowing them to drive both academic excellence and create positive impacts on the lives of people right across the globe. QR funding is linked to a rigorous national assessment of excellence (the Research Excellence Framework) and plays a significant role in shaping research capacity and capability while leveraging additional funding from business and charities through new and stronger university partnerships. Mainstream QR funding will increase from £1,050 million in 2018-19 to £1,095 million in 2019-20.
  • £23m will ramp up Research England’s investments in national initiatives, supporting international research collaborations, such as the I3 scheme, and increasing research capacity in small but excellent departments through the E3 scheme. The budget for national facilities and initiatives will rise from £23 million to £46 million.
  • £10m from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) will allow universities to pursue further collaborations with ODA-eligible countries to make a real difference to people’s lives in some of the poorest nations in the world. Research England’s GCRF budget will rise from £58 million to £68 million.
  • £13m will be allocated to the university response to strategic priorities, recognising that the individual councils that make up UK Research and Innovation are working together to address issues of common interest. The Research England Strategic Priorities fund will rise from £16 million to £29m. 

The following funding streams have been maintained at the same level as last year (there have been no decreases):

  • The Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), supports a range of interactions between universities and the wider world, and helping to deliver the Industrial Strategy, is maintained at £210 million.
  • The charity research element of QR, which helps universities meet the full cost of research for charities, is maintained at £204 million, having been increased last year.
  • The QR business research element is being maintained at £64 million.
  • The postgraduate research degree supervision element of QR, which supports universities to develop the next generation of researchers and protect the health of the talent pipeline through postgraduate study and into research and the wider economy, is maintained at £260 million, having been increased last year.
  • Funding for national research libraries is maintained at £7 million.
  • HEI Research Capital England funding is maintained at £96 million.
  • The Higher Education Research Capital England element is maintained at £87 million.

From the total nearly £2.2 billion budget, Research England allocates individual amounts to each higher education institution in England according to criteria that are largely based on the quality of research and knowledge exchange activity the university carries out. For a more detailed explanation of recurrent and capital funding, what it supports and how it is allocated, see the booklet “Research England: how we fund higher education institutions”, available as a PDF. at https://re.ukri.org/sector-guidance/publications/guide-to-research-and-knowledge-exchange-funding-2019-20

Research England wrote to all higher education institutions in England today to inform them of this total. Their individual allocations will be announced in late July.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:

“I am delighted that for the first time since 2010, we have a significant uplift in QR funding for universities. One of my personal priorities has been to place universities at the heart of innovation for the future and I’m pleased to have worked to deliver on this.

This announcement today marks an important recognition of university research and the need to invest more in flexible, curiosity-driven research that has tremendous benefits to developing our international standing as a research powerhouse.

Increased investment in research and development is a key ambition of the Government which has committed to 2.4% GDP spent on R&D by 2027 – a vital part of our industrial strategy. The Government has already committed to investing an additional £7 billion on R&D by 2021, the largest increase for forty years.”

Research England Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said:

‘I am delighted to announce increased funding levels for English universities for the coming year. This rising public investment underpins the world-leading academic research carried out in our universities and, with our knowledge exchange funding, is at the heart of the university partnerships which deliver benefit to every parts of our society.

‘English university research is key to tackling global challenges, and our increased investment through the Global Challenges Research Fund will allow more partnerships with those in the poorest parts of the world, and make a difference to people’s lives. 

‘The funding announced today will work in partnership with the discipline-specific and programme-focused funding provided through research councils and Innovate UK and is part of the government’s commitment to increase research and development spending to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027.’


Tamera Jones, 07342 025443, press@ukri.org


  1. Further details of the allocation are published in the letter “Recurrent and capital funding for 2019-20” (RE CL 2019-03). Please note that recurrent funding is distributed by academic year and capital funding by financial year.
  2. Figures exclude allocations for the Research England Development (RED) fund, the Connecting Capability Fund (CCF) and University Enterprise Zones
  3. “Knowledge exchange” refers to a broad range of interactions between higher education institutions and the economy and society, in which universities put their considerable knowledge, expertise and assets to use through engaging with businesses, public services, the third sector and communities. Examples include: setting up businesses to develop new technologies grounded in university research; enabling small businesses to use specialist equipment and other facilities; delivery of professional training, consultancy and services; supporting graduates to set up their own business; and contributing to social innovation.
  4. The guidance from BEIS to Research England (received as an annex to an allocations letter from BEIS to UK Research and Innovation) can be seen at here.
  5. Research England is a public body that shapes healthy, dynamic research and knowledge exchange in universities. It distributes funding to universities, primarily in England but also in the rest of the UK; it works to understand their strategies, capabilities and capacity; and it supports and challenges universities to create new knowledge, strengthen the economy, and enrich society. Research England is part of UK Research and Innovation alongside the seven Research Councils and Innovate UK.

Examples of what universities do with Research England recurrent funding

The Manchester Cancer Research Centre at the University of Manchester, which is improving clinical care and treatment strategies for cancer patients, uses Research England recurrent funding to cover costs that can’t be met by charity investment, so research can continue over the long term in a stable way.

Our recurrent funding supports the University of Nottingham’s partnership with GlaxoSmithKline, which enabled creation of the GSK Carbon Neutral Lab - a hub to generate new collaborations with industry for world-leading research to ensure that new chemistry is efficient and sustainable.

The Centre for Behaviour Change at University College London (UCL) uses Research England recurrent funding to support its work to address key societal challenges, such as reducing illness and morbidity among elderly people living in fuel poverty.

At Canterbury Christ Church University, Research England recurrent funding has supported multiple R&D contracts worth more than £500,000, focusing on innovations including the transportation of swine embryos and the use of animal venom as an anti-carcinogen.

Research England’s recurrent funding underpins the work of the Institute for Cyber Security Innovation at Royal Holloway, University of London, which works with industry funders such as GlaxoSmithKline to carry out research into pressing cyber security problems, and provides consultancy and training services.