Health research funders provide £4.8bn a year to improvement of human health, shows UKCRC report

A new report commissioned by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration has found that UK research funders provided £4.8bn of funding to health and biomedical research in the most recent year of analysis.

The report, UK Health Research Analysis 2018, shows this £4.8bn to be the larger part of the UK’s spend on health-related research and development, which was £8.6bn in the same year.

UK Health Research Analysis 2018 is part of a series of reports on public- and charity-funded health research, providing detail on a complex but crucial area of national expenditure and informing policy-makers as they decide priorities for UK healthcare. The reports are produced by the UKCRC’s Health Research Analysis Forum and compiled through a classification system that brings together 22,500 research projects from 146 funding organisations.

The new report also found that geographical distribution of health-relevant research funding has been largely stable between 2004 and 2018, as has the spend on health by category, with almost a fifth of funding going towards cancer research. The most significant growth area has been in infections research, which has seen a +4.5% increase in funding since 2004, reflecting the greater awareness of antimicrobial resistance and the threat it poses.

Overall public funding for health research (from government or donation to medical research charities) increased between 2004 and 2018, however most of this increase was between 2004 and 2009, after which the growth has been slower.

In addition, it was found the participating organisations provided £223m of funding to principal investigators outside of the UK, while UK researchers were awarded £254m of health research funding from bodies outside of the UK, largely from the European Union.

This analysis will be an invaluable tool to decision-makers across funding organisations and government as they guide the UK’s research capability. The collaboration is pleased to see that funding awarded for health research has increased over the period of analysis, with its distribution of categories reflecting the needs and priorities of the nation’s health.

UKCRC welcomes the positive statements the new government has made towards health research, including its manifesto commitment to make the UK the leading global hub for life sciences. The organisations represented on UKCRC look forward to working with colleagues in government and industry, in the UK and overseas, to further strengthen the nation’s life sciences sector.