Sir David Grant to lead independent review of UKRI

The former vice-chancellor of Cardiff University has been appointed to lead a review of UK Research and Innovation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

An independent review of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the public research funding body that includes seven research councils and the UK’s innovation agency, is to be led by the former vice-chancellor of Cardiff University.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) commissioned the independent review as UKRI marks its fourth anniversary.

Sir David Grant, vice-chancellor of Cardiff University from 2001 to 2012, is to head the review.

The assessment will scrutinise UKRI performance. Sir David has been asked to investigate if UKRI is achieving its core objectives and assess “its readiness to contribute to the UK government’s ambitions”. BEIS expects to publish the findings in summer 2022.

UKRI is the umbrella organisation that includes the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. UKRI directs most state research funding and received an allocation of nearly £8 billion for 2021-22.

BEIS has asked the review team to consider UKRI structures, governance and efficiency, including whether it is delivering results “for all citizens and stakeholders”. The review is to report on whether UKRI performance compares well with similar organisations and if it has the skills it needs “for the future”. It will also report on how well the UKRI governors are performing.

As UKRI has responsibilities and roles across the country, the review will consult the devolved administrations for advice. Several other ongoing reviews have overlapping interests. Sir David’s review “recognises that other related reviews are in progress and will consult with those reviews,” BEIS said.

Professor Sir Paul Nurse, the chief executive and director of the Francis Crick Institute, who led the 2015 review that recommended the creation of UKRI, is currently heading an independent review of the research, development and innovation organisational landscape – of which UKRI is a major stakeholder. The findings of the Nurse review are expected in spring 2022.

Meanwhile, Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex – and soon-to-be vice-chancellor of Birmingham University – is leading a review for BEIS on research bureaucracy, with findings expected in “early 2022”.

The findings of the Tickell review are to inform a separate, UKRI-commissioned review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) led by Sir Peter Gluckman.

Header image © Cardiff University.

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