Cynulliad Cenedlaethol Cymru / National Assembly for Wales

Pwyllgor yr Economi, Seilwaith a Sgiliau/ Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee

Ymchwiliad i ymchwil ac arloesedd yng Nghymru/ Research and Innovation in Wales

Ymateb gan Cancer Research UK / Evidence from Cancer Research UK


Cancer Research UK response to the National Assembly for Wales Economy, Infrastructure and Skills Committee inquiry: Research and innovation in Wales

October 2018


1.       Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is the largest charitable funder of cancer research in the world. In 2017/18 we invested £423 million in research to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We are the only charity funding research into all 200 types of cancer and we receive no Government funding, depending on the public for support.


2.       In the 1970’s 1 in 4 people survived their cancer for ten years or more. Today, thanks to research, 2 in 4 people survive. CRUK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034. We are committed to funding high-quality research in Wales. We fund over £4m of research in Wales, including our Wales Cancer trials Unit in Cardiff and a CRUK Senior Research Nurse.


3.       It is vital researchers in Wales have access to increased research funding appropriately distributed across the research pipeline from basic, translational through to clinical research.  The Committee’s inquiry is timely following the publication of recent reviews of research and university funding in Wales[i] [ii] and as UK-wide increases in research spend are implemented.


4.       CRUK is finalising a report about the medical research environment in Wales. The report will include recommendations to improve the quality and standing of medical research in Wales and to improve patient access to clinical research. We will be happy to share our full recommendations once finalised.


Ensuring an appropriate balance of research & development (R&D) funding

5.       As a priority Welsh Government must recognise the importance of the dual support funding system and increase Quality-related funding to Welsh Universities. This would be in-line with the recommendations of the Diamond and Reid Reviews and enable universities to put in place long term strategies to compete for funding on a UK-level.


6.       Investment in medical research benefits patients and the economy; each pound invested in medical research by the taxpayer and charities returns around 25 pence to the economy year on year [iii]. Medical research in Wales, and the UK, comes from a variety of sources including public funds, charities and the private sector. This diversity of sources is valuable to provide long term financial stability, enable the pooling of risks and to draw on different expertise to create a more competitive and high quality medical research environment[iv] [v].


7.       We support UK Government’s ambition to increase spending on R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 and spending commitments that have already been made[vi][vii]. We would also welcome any additional funding streams from the Welsh Government to tackle health priorities in Wales. Research funding is increasingly being directed towards mission-led funding and additional investment in innovation is very welcome. However, it’s also vital that an adequate proportion of this investment supports underpinning Quality-related (QR) research funding in universities as well as response-mode funding.


8.       QR funding is a crucial component of the dual support system, sustaining the excellence of our science base through un-hypothecated funding that enhances the stability and autonomy of institutions[viii] [ix].This science base is crucial to enhance the UK’s innovation landscape and support the commercialisation of research. By investing in science through the dual support system, Government leverages additional investment from charities and industry, generating further scientific and economic growth.  For every £1 spent by the Government on R&D, private sector R&D output rises by 20p per year in perpetuity[x].


9.       QR funding to Welsh Universities from Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) has remained flat at £71 million since 2012/13[xi]. This represents a real-terms decrease in the funding received by Welsh researchers in the last five years. Welsh Government must support the provision of QR funding to Wales’ Universities as it is essential to support the current growth of challenge-led funding.


10.   The charity research support element of QR funding is a vital component of this funding, as it enables Government funding to leverage additional partnership funding from the charity sector.  To support charity research investment in Wales, the charity element of QR funding should be maintained in real terms.

For further information please contact Andy Glyde, Public Affairs Manager (Wales) on


[i] Review of higher education funding and student finance arrangements: final report (2016)   

[ii] A review of government funded research and innovation in Wales (2018)

[iii] Grant J, Buxton MJ, Economic returns to medical research funding, BMJOpen 2018;8:e022131. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022131

[iv] Exploring the Interdependency between Public and charitable medical Research (2011)

[v] Exploring the Interdependencies of Research Funders in the UK (2014)

[vi] Record boost to R&D and new transport fund to help build an economy fit for the future,

[vii] £2 billion investment in R&D, 2016:

[viii] Empowering UK universities: how strategic institutional support helps research thrive

[ix] The Dual Funding Structure for Research in the UK: Research Council and Funding Council Allocation Methods and the Pathways to Impact of UK Academics (2013)

[x] Campaign for Science and Engineering, The Economic Significance of the UK Science Base (2014)

[xi] HEFCW funding allocations 2012-13.