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Research into the impacts of discovery science and maths

IOP, together with the Council for Mathematical Sciences, the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Society of Chemistry, is commissioning research to create a coherent, up-to-date picture of the impacts of discovery science and maths research in the UK, on our society, environment, and economy, including its role within the wider research and innovation landscape.

It is anticipated that the outputs of the research could inform decision making in government and research funding agencies on how to ensure the funding landscape can deliver the best outcomes from investment in R&D in the long term as well as the short term.

Discovery research, also known as fundamental, basic, pure or curiosity-driven research, is theoretical or experimental work undertaken to acquire new knowledge without any intended direct application or use. It plays a role in the wider research and innovation landscape, alongside, for example, applied research and experimental development.

While the role and value of R&D in the UK's economy and society is well understood, evidence regarding discovery science and maths research is more limited, and often fragmented or out of date. If the UK's investment in R&D is to deliver the best outcomes for our economy and society, we must understand the interplay between discovery research and other types of research supported by the current funding landscape, and the associated impacts.

This research will expand and illuminate the evidence base on the impacts of discovery science and maths research, drawing on national and regional examples, and considering:

  • its role within the wider R&D landscape (e.g. pushing the frontiers of knowledge and contributing to other fields of research)
  • its impacts on the economy and social prosperity (e.g. skilled job creation and co-location of businesses)
  • its impacts on society and culture (e.g. improved health and wellbeing, and protection of the environment)

To find out more about the research, please contact