Invitation to tender – Economic Analysis of R&D

The British Academy and the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) are together commissioning an up-to-date and robust economic analysis of the returns of the UK research base (public and private) which can be used to underpin policy arguments for how and why the UK research base, across all disciplines, offers economic benefits to the UK.

The British Academy and CaSE have substantial existing research and policy work on the role of Research & Development (R&D) in UK economy and society. The Economic Significance of the UK Science Base is a widely cited piece of research on the economic benefits of R&D investment, commissioned by CaSE and produced by Alan Hughes and Jonathan Haskel in 2014. Understanding SHAPE in R&D draws together long-term research conducted by the British Academy on the value and representation of SHAPE R&D across the economy.

CaSE and the British Academy wish to build on these bodies of evidence, bringing them together to enable a broader programme of economic analysis which can be used to underpin policy arguments for how and why the UK research base, across all disciplines, offers economic benefits to the UK. In order to enable this analysis, we wish to commission work that analyses and engages with the tangible and intangible value and returns of the UK research base. We hope to use this analysis to deepen our understanding of the links between research, innovation and productivity growth across sectors and covering all disciplines.

Key dates

Open for applications: 30 January 2024

Deadline date: 8 March 2024 at 12:00 GMT

Earliest start date: 25 March 2024

Duration of award: March to September 2024

Scope of the research

We wish to commission an up-to-date and robust economic analysis / analyses of the returns of the UK research base (public and private), including where possible ideas about how to use this analysis to deepen our understanding of the links between research, innovation and productivity growth. This will allow us to update existing figures and analyses which may be out of date, and to use this analysis to understand what a more credible set of multipliers for R&D across all sectors of the economy.

Regardless of the proposed outputs, successful tenderers must explore the full breadth of R&D across all sectors and disciplines, and should engage to the greatest extent possible with literature around concepts like ‘hidden innovation’ and ‘intangible assets’. We would therefore like to invite proposals to explore:

  • The role of public investment in research and its relationship with private investment, including multiplier effects, to understand overall funding patterns.
  • The composition of business R&D spending in the UK, and an assessment of the extent to which different types of R&D (and intangible investments) in different types of organisations (eg large and small) and sectors lead to different degrees of wider spillovers.
  • If and how to better measure the causes / mechanisms of return on different R&D activities, including the precise causal mechanisms through which R&D generates social and economic value for the UK.
  • If there are things which should be, but which are not currently, measured which would increase our understanding of what factors cause or increase return on R&D investment.
  • The efficiency of R&D expenditure, the barriers to this – including to translation, adoption and absorption – and the conditions needed to reduce barriers and improve productivity gains.

We expect the successful bidder to help us explore the precise questions that it would be most helpful to seek answers to, and to understand what is possible on the basis of existing research. Possible other questions which could be explored include:

  • What is the link between business R&D spending and degree of wider spillovers in the economy? How does this differ by type of R&D, sector, size of business, and region?
  • What are the implications of R&D composition on translation efficiency?
  • What are new and innovative ways of thinking about the rates of return and net present value of investments in R&D, and how can we think creatively about making this case to HM's Government?

These questions are suggestions, and not exhaustive or prioritised. We understand that proposals may not be able to address all of our research questions, but we encourage tenderers to indicate the trade-offs in exploring some questions over others. In addition, we welcome different methodological approaches but stress we are most interested in detailed analysis of R&D investment and activity (qualitative and quantitative) which will build on the existing work already done in this space. We encourage tender respondents to think creatively about how they would approach such a brief.


We expect outcomes from this project to include as a minimum a written report, suitable for publication on the websites of CaSE and the Academy, including data visualisations as appropriate. Both organisations will require peer review as part of this process.

We anticipate that the commissioned team will consult key stakeholders, work closely with staff at the British Academy and CaSE throughout the project, and provide at least one draft report for feedback, as well as regular oral updates.


Invitations to tender close on 8 March 2024 and we expect to meet with shortlisted organisations / researchers before awarded the tender by the end of March 2024. Work should commence as soon as possible thereafter and an initial kick-off meeting to agree the approach should be held in April 2024, using a technical briefing provided by the successful tenderer setting out a detailed project plan, including questions and methodology. An interim project meeting with a brief report update should be delivered by July 2024, and a final draft report should be submitted by September 2024.


Depending on the methods proposed and questions addressed, we expect to receive bids across a range of values, but no single bid should exceed £80,000, excluding VAT. We encourage submissions at any level if they demonstrate value for money and meet the proposal assessment criteria. If a bidding organisation feels that there are activities which would provide useful evidence against the research questions, but would not be feasible within the budget, we welcome proposals which detail this.

Proposal assessment criteria

  • The strength of the proposed approach and methodology to answering the research question(s).
  • The expertise of the researcher / research team in the subject area.
  • The experience of the researcher / research team in conducting studies using similar research methodologies.
  • The anticipated breadth of coverage of sectors, R&D types, and organisations.
  • The demonstrated value for money.

Response to this brief

Please submit your response to this brief by 12:00 GMT on 8 March 2024 to [email protected]. Your response should be no more than eight pages (excluding CVs of the researcher / research team), and include:

  • Your approach to undertaking this work, including justification of methodology and question(s) addressed.
  • Details of the communities and networks which you propose to access.
  • Any risks or difficulties that you foresee with this project, and any steps that might be taken to mitigate them.
  • Relevant experience that you have to undertake this work.
  • Your proposed timescales to undertake this work, including proposed number of days allocated.
  • Breakdown of estimated costs.
  • CVs of all individuals making a significant contribution to the commission.

For further information or queries, please email Dr Eleanor Hopkins, Senior Policy Adviser, at the British Academy on [email protected].

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