The Academy works with government, business and the wider engineering community to accelerate the commercialisation of university research and growth of engineering businesses in the UK.

Current activity

R&D tax reliefs

R&D tax reliefs are designed to encourage greater R&D spending, leading in turn to greater investment in innovation.

As part of the Academy’s work on how the UK can increase its investment in R&D, Increasing R&D investment: business perspectives, tax incentives were found to be a strength of the UK business environment. R&D tax credits can encourage large multinational companies to invest in R&D in the UK, as they decrease the relative cost of the work. For small companies, the tax credits can promote R&D investment by increasing cash flow to respond to opportunities as they arise. 

Increasing R&D investment: business perspectives - Tax incentives explainer (138.42 KB)


The UK National Academies have published a short briefing outlining how current tax relief for R&D is offered under R&D tax credits.

What role do R&D tax reliefs play in encouraging UK R&D? (188.75 KB)


In addition, the Academy responded to the HMRC and HM Treasury consultation on Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs.

Submission: Preventing abuse of the R&D tax relief for SMEs (245.73 KB)

Supporting UK businesses to start and grow

The Academy aims to provide a voice for growing engineering businesses in the UK.

In September 2017, the Academy submitted evidence to HM Treasury’s Financing growth in innovative firms inquiry. The response built on the Academy’s Industrial Strategy green paper response and submission to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee’s Access to finance inquiry in February 2016.

Financing growth in innovative firms (361.04 KB)

In April 2017, the Academy’s joint response to the government's industrial strategy Green Paper was published.

The overarching recommendations relating to supporting businesses in the UK include:

  • SMEs need much clearer, simpler signposting to sources of advice and support, with greater exploitation of existing channels and contact points such as banks, HMRC and Companies House. Regional and sectoral dimensions should be taken into account to ensure the most effective marketing channels are used
  • Government should revisit the limits on the amounts that can be invested under the popular Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme, Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trusts, as well as developing additional tax incentives that stimulate longer-term investments. Government, in partnership with others, should promote the investment opportunities and investment successes across the whole of the UK
  • Business owners who have successfully scaled up and who have founded companies that are ‘born global’ should be promoted as role models, and their stories used as case studies to inspire and educate the next generation of companies with scale-up potential

In February 2017 the Academy responded to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Review of the Small Business Research Initiative. The response was informed by the Academy’s report, Public projects and procurement in the UK, which set out how an engineering systems approach could help the UK government meet its tactical, operational and strategic objectives for procurement.

Review of the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) (321.48 KB)

Transforming UK translation

In July 2017, the Academy, alongside the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Society, and the Wellcome Trust, outlined a series of commitments to ensure that translation is recognised and celebrated as an integral part of academic research.

This document sets out our ambition for translation and the commitments that our organisations collectively make to achieve this and to break down barriers across the system. While we all have different roles to play, and not every organisation will have the resource or remit to address all of the actions outlined, we will work together to implement practical actions and take a creative, collaborative and bold approach to deliver continuous improvement and lasting change.

Transforming UK translation (98.75 KB)

Commercialisation of university research

In collaboration with the Academy’s Enterprise Hub, we are exploring how the UK can best ensure that it is maximising its opportunities to create successful university spin out companies that grow to scale and deliver value for our economy and society.

In March 2017, the Academy welcomed the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on managing intellectual property and technology transfer. The Academy had previously submitted written evidence to the Select Committee's inquiry in October 2016. The response called for the following recommendations that could help to streamline the commercialisation process and ensure that the impact of UK research and development is felt by society and the economy as soon as possible:

  • Universities should prioritise exploitation of intellectual property (IP) over its protection
  • The division of equity should incentivise exceptional academic entrepreneurs to drive the company forward. The university’s stake should reflect the value, amount and nature of support it provides
  • The skills and knowledge of technology transfer office staff should continue to be improved, so that they are fully equipped to support all parties in the process of spinning-out research
  • A lack of understanding of the commercialisation process amongst academic entrepreneurs can put them at a disadvantage during negotiations with universities and hamper business growth further down the line, so support for academic entrepreneurs is vital to spin-out success

Explainer: Tax incentives (138.42 KB)