Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Election 2019

Will the UK remain a research superpower?

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 28 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6675
  1. Jacqui Wise, freelance journalist
  1. London, UK
  1. jacquiyoung1{at}

What are the political parties’ promises for research and development after the election, asks Jacqui Wise, as research academies and charities call for a research friendly Brexit outcome

The UK’s three largest political parties made a commitment to increase spending on research and development in their election manifestos and at a science election hustings at the Royal Society in London on 19 November.

The Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the British Academy, and the Royal Academy of Engineering want the next government to ensure investment of 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in research and development by the end of the coming decade.1

The UK currently spends 1.69% of GDP on research and development, placing it 11th among EU countries. A 3% target would place it on a level with countries such as Germany but still below the high tech countries Israel and South Korea, which spend 4.55% of GDP. UK public investment in research and development is currently 0.43% of GDP, which the academies want to see raised to 1% to trigger more private investment.

Stephen Metcalfe, Conservative former chair of the science and technology …

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