Media release – 19/5/2009

UK Engineering Research is World Class but More Investment is Needed

The Engineering and Technology Board (ETB) today released a new policy paper, documenting the excellent state of Engineering Research within UK Universities, and calling for increased research credits to ensure Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro-businesses can afford to keep innovating.

The paper, based on the independent analysis of the Research Assessment Exercise (1), reveals that between 58 and 71 percent of the research and development taking place in UK university engineering departments is rated as ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, with the highest scores being obtained in Chemical and Civil Engineering.

Mechanical, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering also faired well with 62% achieving world leading or internationally excellent status, and other top performing subjects included:
• Electrical and Electronic Engineering, with 59 % considered World Leading or Internationally Excellent
• General Engineering and Mining and Mineral Engineering with 58% considered World Leading or Internationally Excellent

The paper also proposes strengthening and developing this excellent research by:
• Increasing research credits for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro-businesses, to ensure they keep innovating.
• Encouraging large and successful businesses in the UK to “mentor” SMEs and micro-usinesses and provide them with knowledge of customer markets and venture-capital.
• Providing a financial support mechanism to help to help SMEs overcome the high costs of Intellectual Property Rights protection of products and innovations

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of the ETB said: ‘University Engineering departments are doing an excellent job laying the foundations for the future economic recovery. Engineering research and the cutting edge products and services it produces are crucial to ensuring the UK keeps pace with the rest of the world.’

Notes to Editors
1.About the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)
The RAE was introduced to allow the four Higher Education (HE) funding bodies to distribute funds selectively based upon research quality. The last assessment before this was in 2001.

The most recent RAE (2008), was jointly funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales and the Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland.

The total research allocation in 2009 -10 is £1.572 billion, including £1.106 billion in mainstream QR (Quality Related) and 3203 million on RDP research-degree programme funding (to support the supervision of postgraduates). Whilst the unit of resource for teaching had been maintained, funding for research has increased by 7.7%.

For further information please contact:
Laura Marsh, Senior Communications Executive, EngineeringUK
Tel: 020 3206 0444 or (m) 07887 943 017

Download as pdf: UK Engineering Research is World Class but More Investment is Needed