Objective 1: Delivering economic impact and social prosperity

This objective identifies four priorities essential for future UK prosperity. Collectively, they articulate a strategic expression of how research and skills in engineering and physical sciences add value for our nation:

Productive nation: Catalysing growth (3.1.1)

We will help deliver a more agile, creative, competitive UK economy sustainable for the longer term, and complement our support for discovery research with investments to ensure rapid knowledge exchange and commercialisation. In 2019-20 we will:

  • explore with stakeholders establishing a centre focusing on the Circular Economy
  • deliver, with NERC and Innovate UK, the activities within the Plastics Research and Innovation Fund - both of the above will support delivery of the Clean Growth Grand Challenge
  • deliver new investments in projects, networks and fellowships in manufacturing
  • establish the National Quantum Technologies Programme, including the National Quantum Computing Centre.

Connected nation: Enhancing future digital technologies (3.1.2)

We will ensure the UK remains at the forefront of creating new digital technologies and innovation pathways. In 2019-20 we will:

  • refresh the Digital Economy research centres
  • invest in calls on natural language processing and software engineering, which are essential to adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, and therefore deliver on the AI & Data Grand Challenge's ambitions
  • scope joint investments in cyber-security with UKRI partners and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), Ministry of Defence (MoD), Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Healthy nation: Transforming healthcare (3.1.3)

We will work with partners in UKRI, the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), charities and the NHS to invest in research that transforms healthcare delivery and supports healthier living in the UK and worldwide. This is relevant to the Ageing Society Grand Challenge and AI & Data Grand Challenge’s early diagnosis mission.

In 2019-20 we will:

  • scope a call, co-branded with NIHR, focusing on the application of engineering and physical sciences expertise to population health challenges
  • launch a call for transforming community health and care
  • generate new multidisciplinary research partnerships in early cancer detection and improved patient outcomes
  • explore, with MRC and NIHR, opportunities to research the 'body-technology interface'.

Resilient nation: Enabling adaptable solutions (3.1.4)

We will invest in research which enables society to anticipate, adapt to and respond to change, whether natural or manmade, short or long-term, local or global. An overarching emphasis will be on supporting society's decarbonisation.

In 2019-20 we will:

  • work with NERC as part of the joint research activity between UKRI and the US National Science Foundation (NSF) to deliver the Signals in the Soil project
  • invest in multidisciplinary research and community-building in decarbonisation and new energy technologies
  • focus on improving knowledge and expertise transfer between EPSRC and Innovate UK to maximise science, technology and commercial delivery from Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund investments in the energy sector, catalysing progress on new energy solutions to support the Clean Growth and Future of Mobility Grand Challenges
  • work across UKRI and with the Home Office to identify new research opportunities.