Although its short term future is secure, UK’s role in future projects is on shakier ground after Brexit vote

The House of Lords science and technology committee has criticised the UK government’s proposal to merge industry funder Innovate UK with the body that will oversee research councils, and has called on science minister Jo Johnson to drop the plans.

The amalgamation of separate research councils into a single body – UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) – was included in the UK government’s recently unveiled higher education strategy. UKRI will also incorporate Innovate UK, although the organisation will ‘retain its identity’ and budget.

But in a letter to the science minister the Lords say that the merger is a bad idea, and argue that Innovate UK should continue to exist as a separate organisation.

‘We believe that Innovate UK would lose its valuable business-facing focus if it were to be placed within UK Research and Innovation, and the consequences could be damaging,’ said the committee’s chair John Selborne in a statement. ‘We urge the government to think again.’

If the merger does go ahead, he added, ‘it is imperative the government protects the core functions of Innovate UK, namely those of autonomy, a protected budget and business-oriented outlook’.