1. Foreword

Portrait photo of Professor Lynn Gladden

Professor Lynn Gladden

Lynn F. Gladden - Executive Chair, EPSRC

Engineering and physical sciences play a crucial role in underpinning modern economies and societies. Driving progress through human curiosity and experimentation, they deliver affordable solutions to national and global challenges. EPSRC provides the research base which underpins the manufacturing, engineering, telecommunications and computer programming sectors, amongst others, which contribute over £300 billion per annum Gross Value Added and over 4 million jobs to the UK economy.

This is an exciting time for engineering and physical sciences research. With EPSRC support, researchers continue to advance the frontiers of knowledge and understanding, whilst partnerships with business and other stakeholders build on these breakthroughs to deliver transformative technologies. Since 2015, we have established our first institutes: The Alan Turing Institute in data science; The Faraday Institution in battery science and technology; The Sir Henry Royce Institute in advanced materials; and most recently The Rosalind Franklin Institute, which focuses on transforming life science through interdisciplinary research and technology development. These institutes represent a total financial investment of around £478 million.

We have also engaged enthusiastically and successfully with the opportunities offered by the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) to support science, research and innovation. In addition to investing around £750 million per year in the research base, we have won over £400 million of NPIF awards, including Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and Strategic Priorities Fund projects and support for 650 doctoral students and 80 innovation fellows. Our new Prosperity Partnerships scheme, meanwhile, has introduced a new way of working with business, with investment of £156 million that includes £90 million leveraged from industry and university partners.

We want to make the UK recognised as the place where the most creative researchers can deliver world-leading engineering and physical sciences research. We exist within a research ecosystem that includes our partner councils in UKRI, the R&D base within business, SMEs, government departments, charitable organisations and international partnerships. UKRI's formation offers an unprecedented opportunity for multidisciplinary working as well as the ability to identify and tackle new research challenges and enhance delivery of societal and economic impact from our worldleading science and engineering research base. Furthermore, in a global economy where technological expertise drives economic growth, we are central to delivering the government's Industrial Strategy commitment of increasing investment in R&D across the whole economy to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and 3% in the longer term.

To realise our vision, this Strategic Delivery Plan (SDP) identifies three complementary high-level objectives. First, we aim to generate economic impact and social prosperity by exploiting our existing and future research base to deliver a productive, connected, healthy, resilient nation. Second, we will unlock the potential of engineering and physical sciences research by stimulating and challenging the research community to open up new areas of science, as well as by supporting talented people and strengthening engagement with research users and business. Third, we aim to enrich the engineering and physical sciences landscape by providing the foundations for world-class research, which means attracting the most talented researchers, providing state-of-the-art research infrastructure at laboratory and national scale, and managing our portfolio so we can rapidly position ourselves in new, ground-breaking areas. We have also identified four priorities associated with each of these three high-level objectives and developed a suite of near-term actions for each priority.

I look forward to working with all our partners to realise our vision and deliver our ambitions.