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Research-intensive universities generate £900 million for Welsh economy

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  • Almost £900million was generated for the Welsh economy in 2021/22 by Russell Group universities, and over 9,000 jobs were supported through their research and innovation activities alone.
  • As the Budget approaches, the Russell Group urges Government to capitalise on huge economic potential of university research and commercialisation and call on this Government and the next to guarantee at least 3% of GDP investment into R&D by 2030.

A new report by London Economics, assessing the economic impact of Russell Group universities across the whole of the UK, which includes Cardiff University, found the impact of their research and commercialisation activities to almost £900million (£885million) in 2021/2022 across Wales and £37.6billion overall across the UK for all 24 Russell Group universities combined.

Analysis showed research and commercialisation activities, such as the creation of new spin-out companies, wider knowledge exchange and Intellectual Property licensing, helped to support over 9,000 (9,260) jobs in Wales and more than a quarter of a million (254,000) jobs, twice as many as in the chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries combined, were supported by all 24 Russell Group universities.

The report shows how the universities contributed to economies in every single region and nation of the country, delivering research and innovation in sectors ranging from medicine to sustainable energy and the creative industries. This is in addition to the economic impact generated by wider productivity spill overs, teaching and education-related activities, and the fees and spending from international students.

Now, the Russell Group is urging the Government to maximise the economic potential of the UK’s research-intensive universities by ensuring at least 3% of GDP is invested into R&D by 2030. The Group, which represents 24 leading research universities, notes that such a commitment by current and future Governments would not only bring the UK in line with other top research nations but also deliver further benefits to the UK economy in years to come.

In a letter to the Chancellor ahead of the Spring Budget, the Group asked the Government to use the Budget to deliver on its existing commitment to invest £20bn in R&D by 2024/25.

Dr Tim Bradshaw, Chief Executive of the Russell Group, said:

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“These findings demonstrate the immense value our universities add in every single corner of the UK. The data clearly shows that investing in R&D and innovation at Russell Group universities reaps huge benefits for local economies and communities, with hundreds of thousands of jobs created and new enterprise supported, thanks to high quality research across a range of disciplines.
Russell Group breakthroughs are helping accelerate efforts to reach Net Zero responsibly, transforming the way UK companies do business and providing the NHS with new ways to save lives and cut waiting lists. Good choices and sustained investment from government has been crucial to this success.

“Now is the time to build on this success with robust funding to future-proof the skills and talent pipeline that is so vital to the growth of our economy – and to ensure that the research and innovation that originates within universities will continue to make a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives”.

Professor Wendy Larner Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University said:
“Right now, universities are facing significant challenges, including lower funding in real terms. To be able to continue to deliver impact like this, and do even more in the years ahead, we must ensure our teaching and research are recognised and valued by our partners, including governments at all levels, and the funding model for universities is sustainable.”