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About the Innovation and Research Caucus

August 11, 2023

There is a growing community of academics studying the research and innovation system in the UK and internationally. However, this research is often not in itself enough to inform and impact policy and practice, and is not meeting the evidence needs of funders and policymakers.

To address this challenge UKRI is investing £7 million to create the Innovation and Research Caucus (IRC) as a world-leading centre of excellence. With the Co-Directors, Professors Tim Vorley and Stephen Roper, based at Oxford Brookes University and the University of Warwick respectively, the IRC also has Co-Investigators based at the universities of Birkbeck, Cambridge and Manchester.  The Innovation & Research Caucus will increase the use of robust evidence and insights in UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) strategies and investments, as well as undertaking a co-produced programme of research.

Further to the research undertaken by the core team, the Innovation & Research Caucus has a network of leading academics from across the social sciences, other disciplines and sectors working in the fields of innovation and research funding policy. By unlocking the insight and expertise of this network the intention is to strengthen research and innovation system.

The IRC aims to:

  • build a community of research and innovation experts to proactively and responsively enhance UKRI’s funding and support strategies and investments
  • work with UKRI to increase the use and influence of robust evidence in the development of research and innovation (R&I) funding and support strategies and investments
  • establish itself as a world leading centre of excellence in evidence and thought leadership on R&I funding strategies and interventions
  • support both Innovate UK in delivering its plan for action and ESRC in its ambition to create the best conditions for innovation in the social sciences

The work undertaken by the IRC will be wide ranging and include:

  • carrying out research projects commissioned by UKRI to provide the evidence needed to inform its decision-making and investment design
  • capability building to increase communication between academics and policymakers
  • working with researchers at a range of career stages to ensure a pipeline of expertise in research and innovation funding
  • identifying areas to research and what interventions might be needed to improve support for the R&I sector

The Innovation & Research Caucus builds on the experience of the Innovation Caucus, which first brought ESRC and Innovate UK together to access social science insights. Over the past 8 years the Innovation Caucus, led by Tim Vorley, has pioneered a collaborative way of working in a way akin to a ‘What Works Centre’ for funders. Over this time the Innovation Caucus team has delivered projects on emergent clusters, the foundation industries, the circular economy and prizes. These projects have informed the work and influenced the thinking of Innovate UK.