The research and innovation system, like every part of society, is facing great uncertainty as we adapt to the new challenges caused by COVID-19. Very few of us have faced a situation like this before, of such scale, complexity or urgency. This is not just about the sustainability of the research and development system, important as that is, but about people. Most researchers and innovators are now having to deal with very difficult circumstances, whether they are a researcher just setting out on their career, a lab technician critical to delivering research, or the founder of a small business exploring bold new innovations. Almost everyone in research and innovation is either facing major interruptions to their work or a major transition to work on the COVID-19 pandemic. The range of this work is wide, from understanding the infection, and developing and testing treatments and vaccines, to exploring all of the associated societal impacts and thinking about the aftermath.
From discussions with leaders across the sector and listening to researchers, businesses and students on social media, a set of clear challenges are surfacing for individuals and organisations. Many of us are adjusting to rebalancing work and home life, which can be unsettling both physically and mentally. But many people are also deeply concerned about their immediate situation and livelihoods. So, as well as supporting efforts to tackle this pandemic, UKRI’s role, in concert with other funders and government, is to ensure that the R&D system – and the people who are its lifeblood – emerge from this current situation in the best possible health. Read more