Regional research capacity: what role in levelling up?

We are proud to partner with the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) to publish a new study: ‘Regional research capacity: what role in levelling up?’. Using trusted data from the Web of Science™, and insights exclusively from the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI)™ at Clarivate™ and led by Chief Scientist, Jonathan Adams, the report sheds light on the inadequacies in the UK’s efforts to ‘level up’ research and innovation across regions, drawing comparisons with Germany and the United States. It reveals critical insights into the disparities and shortcomings in current investment strategies.

Key findings include:

  • Inadequate investment and limited impact: The report concludes that the UK’s investment in research and innovation falls short, lacking the scale seen in Germany and the sustained commitment observed in the United States. Furthermore, the investment has not been effectively linked to enhancing research manpower capacity.
  • Regional economic imbalance: OECD data highlight a significant regional economic imbalance in the UK compared to the US and Germany. Despite disparities in regional research activity, the average academic research performance remains similar across regions.
  • City-centric research capacity: Analyses shifting the focus from regions to distance reveal that research capacity is concentrated in major conurbations, aligning with the economic influence of cities. The ‘golden triangle’ around London does not significantly outperform other regions in research quality or relative GDP enhancement.
  • Funding disparities and institutional bias: While research quality is evenly distributed, funding disparities are not simply regional; they reflect a bias towards specific institutions. The concentration of research activity within regions is masked by regional analyses, and regional research networks are underdeveloped.


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