Research at risk


This report from UK think tank IPPR looks at how to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on health R&D investment.

There is every reason to increase the role of R&D in the UK economy. Even before we think about high-impact events like Covid-19 and Brexit, the country faced a significant productivity challenge. Normally, after a fiscal crisis, productivity recovers. However, after the 2008 crisis, we observed ‘productivity hysteresis’ – whereby the negative impact on productivity became permanent. This is a problem for living standards, wage growth, public sector sustainability and our ability to compete in the global economy. Yet, R&D – and particularly health research – is also an excellent antidote to the challenges facing the UK. Covid-19 has created a substantial health backlog, which may impact outcomes for years or decades to come. New discoveries and a renewed focus on improving health outcomes is one way to begin rectifying this. Moreover, Covid-19 has proven the importance of health resilience – to the economy, to our health and to our way of living. A stronger health sector, with more thinkers, more lab space, more capacity and more agility is a good way to support that.

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