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UKRI chief executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser has set out her vision for the UK’s research landscape in the coming years at an online meeting of the RSB’s Member Organisations.

In an exclusive event for the Society’s organisational members, Dame Ottoline took questions on topics including support for early-career scientists, improving diversity in research, and post-Brexit connectivity with research projects in Europe.

Ottoline LeyserUKRI chief executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser FRSB 

The UKRI is the largest funder of research in the UK, with its budget of over £8bn a year representing around 60% of all public spending on research. Dame Ottoline explained the proportion of the UKRI’s budget that will be spent on different types of research in 2020/21, from PhD funding (9%) to targeted COVID-19 related grants (5%), plus the breakdown of research funding in key areas. Up to £1bn will be spent on innovation towards net zero energy and £1bn in R&D relevant to AI.

Speaking of the importance of developing ‘connectivity’ between researchers and research, Dame Ottoline suggested that more money may be allocated in the future to research that “benefits across disciplines” and “connects the innovation sector to the wider research community”. She called for input from the sector on the organisation’s strategy for the next five years, which is currently in development, and told attendees that “anything you can do to break down barriers of all sorts [between researchers] will be crucial [to the UKRI’s mission].”

Just under 50 representatives from 27 scientific organisations in both academia and industry registered for the event. The RSB has recently welcomed three new organisations to its 80+ organisational members, supporters and strategic partners: the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Marine Biological Association, and the UK Society for Extracellular Vesicles.

Following Dame Ottoline’s talk, RSB trustee Professor Patricia Kuwabara FRSB spoke about her new role as chair of the Society’s College of Organisational Members, and her ideas for future events and collaborations. RSB chief executive Dr Mark Downs also discussed recent Society activity of relevance to life science organisations.

A video of the meeting and the slides shared are available for all organisational members of the RSB. Contact