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Funding for medical research in the UK is provided by both the public and private sectors, as well as charities and non-governmental organisations.  The latest data from the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC – a partnership of the main stakeholders who influence clinical research across the business, public and charitable sectors in the UK) indicated that almost £4 billion was spent in 2018 on health relevant research in the UK by public and charity funders (£2.5bn spent directly on research projects and £1.4bn on infrastructure), an increase of 18.7% since 2014.[1]

The UKCRC also estimated that a further £850m of health-relevant funding came from “other sources not directly captured” by its analysis, thereby giving a total public/charitable expenditure in 2018 of £4.8bn. The term “charity” in the UKCRC report refers “mainly to funding provided by organisations that are members of the Association of Medical Research Charities” although it notes that there “are other UK non-profit private organisations supporting health relevant research”.[2]

Statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics showed that, in 2018, the pharmaceutical industry spent £4.5 billion on research and development (R&D) – the greatest expenditure by any sector on R&D in the UK.[3]

Charitable medical research funding

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has published more recent figures on charitable medical research expenditure, based on data from its 150 AMRC member charities. It reported that, in 2019, AMRC medical research charities accounted for 51% of publicly funded medical research in the UK, investing £1.9 billion in UK research.[4]

This pack contains background on the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on charitable research funding, the Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund, the Government’s position and the November 2020 Spending Review, as well as links to relevant Commons Library publications, news items and Parliamentary Questions. 

[1] UK CRC, UK Health Research Analysis 2018, published 2020, p10

[2] UK CRC, UK Health Research Analysis 2018, published 2020, p22

[3] Office for National Statistics, Business enterprise research and development, UK: 2018, November 2019

[4] AMRC, Medical Research Charities: Investing in Research 2019. Research Expenditure, June 2020

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