The demands on and priorities of the UK research and innovation sector are evolving at pace. We see increased pressure on financial sustainability, an increased focus on improving research culture, and the need to prioritise on integrity and transparency, while accelerating routes to application.
Our support of the research and innovation sector stems from our position as the UK’s national research and education network (NREN), providing infrastructure and facilities including the Janet Network.
Janet is the fastest computer network in the world and is essential for meeting the demands of research. It connects UK higher education institutions and research establishments to the rest of the digital research world, securely moving huge volumes of research data and providing the high-speed connection for collaborative research.
We also provide solutions around cyber security, cloud, data, licensing, content and discovery to empower our members with the technology and data they need to succeed.
In response to changing demands of the sector and after extensive engagement with our members we have identified seven themes that will shape our support of the UK research and innovation sector in the coming two years. These themes will direct our activities and will support our vision: for the UK to be a world leader in technology for education and research.
Theme one: Supporting a new national data infrastructure for research
Never before has research and innovation been so dependent on infrastructure, on the capacity of network, security, connectivity and access management. This dependency will continue to grow.
We commit to supporting a new national data infrastructure for research, underpinned by our existing Janet network, cyber security, cloud and data infrastructures and will coordinate the implementation of a flexible set of solutions for institutions and research collaborations.
Theme two: UK research analytics: understanding systems, cultures, resources and decision-making
The data produced through the processes of research management could be used on a greater scale to transform research systems, cultures and decision-making. Exponentially-upgraded analytical capacity is needed to build the strategic capabilities of UK research.
We will examine the potential for a new UK research analytics platform and service, enhancing our existing analytics capabilities.
Theme three: Recording the UK’s ‘research estate’ in support of a UK-wide research capability
The ability to identify, deploy, share and reuse physical and intangible assets that comprise the research estate are central to delivering efficiencies, the civic agenda, levelling up, open research and achieving net-zero. These assets also include the significant infrastructure which gives access to research, including content, library and archival collections.
We will explore expanding the well-established digital approaches to the management and use of these assets.
Theme four: Accelerating the achievement, delivery and monitoring of the journey to open research
Open research extends beyond the boundaries of open access articles to all research outputs, including metadata, data, code, algorithms and software, as well as the processes of research itself. It will continue to be a high priority for the UK research base, for funders and for Jisc.
We commit to helping the UK embrace the full potential of open research by removing barriers, embedding open practices and developing infrastructure to support this potential.
Theme five: Applied research and knowledge exchange: supporting commercialisation and deployment
The interconnected systems producing world-class research and innovation are increasingly reliant on shared and secure infrastructure to enable their growth. The breadth of academic-industry collaborations and commercial spinouts from academic research is set to grow.
We commit to further supporting the acceleration of the impact of and knowledge exchange from research commercialisation through the enhanced use of shared research infrastructure.
Theme six: Rapid innovation in research management and active research
Research integrity, reproducibility and reuse, evaluation and assessment, new and inclusive forms of excellence and the responsible use of metrics are all areas that offer significant potential for greater efficiency and interoperability.
We commit to exploring and building on innovative approaches in research management, including enhanced system interoperability, common data repository standards and metrics aggregator models.
Theme seven: ‘Research 4.0’ and realising the art of the possible
Advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics, 5G, quantum computing and biotechnologies are set to impact the UK’s world-leading research and innovation sector in the years ahead in ways yet to be imagined.
We propose a technical enablers programme focusing on exemplifying leading-edge specialisms and a ‘research reimagined’ programme to better understand this future potential with and on behalf of our members.
Our research and innovation sector strategy has been shaped by our engagement with researchers, research managers and research enablers. The strategy will continue to evolve and develop in the next two years to address the needs of the ever-changing research environment.
Continuing conversations around Research 4.0: Research in the Age of Automation (as outlined in a report by the independent thinktank, Demos) we are working closely with the research community, bringing innovative ideas together to form a new digital research community group.