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The British Council’s strategic aim in its science work is to support the UK’s international reputation for science and research. We recognise that research produced by collaborators from more than one country tends to have greater impact. Over 50 per cent of the UK’s research involves international collaboration and it is more important than ever that this continues, if the UK is to remain a science superpower and make the best contribution to addressing global challenges such as climate change, public health (including preventing and managing pandemics) and sustainable development.

Our work is organised around three categories of activity:

Support for individuals

Building on our track record as a delivery partner for the Newton Fund, we support academics at all career stages through individual grant awards, primarily for pilot and exploratory work, development of novel collaborative activities and multidisciplinary approaches.

We also provide financial support for workshops and short to medium-term placement opportunities.

This support enables UK researchers to find collaborators in a range of international settings, share knowledge and create new research outputs to address global challenges. Individual links can attract worldwide talent to the UK and support long-term connections throughout people’s careers.

Support for institutions

Our new Capacity Strengthening Framework supports UK sector and international stakeholders to design and deliver training in innovation, research governance, researcher skills, and science communication.  This supports cohorts of researchers within universities, government agencies, and other sector bodies to develop their research skills and their ability to apply their research to change the world.

We also create institutional links for placement and exchange for postgraduate and early career researchers.

To ensure these interactions lead to ongoing international collaboration in research, we support networking and opportunities to share learning to develop international ecosystems of research expertise and act as a global access point to major funding schemes such as those managed by UKRI which will enable research partners to undertake larger research programmes and activities. 

Science communication, engagement and outreach

Science and research can suggest solutions to shared challenges but these can only be implemented where they are trusted and supported by the public. We are currently developing a new programme for public engagement in science that will provide training, opportunities and encouragement for global researchers to bring their work out of the university setting and into the wider public space.

Through our FameLab programme, we have trained thousands of early career researchers in science communication and enabled them to describe their work to a broad audience. We now plan to increase the impact of this work by training more academic and research staff, and extending and improving the visibility of science communicators through participation in country and regional events.

We will also encourage researchers to engage stakeholders, including the public as research end-users or beneficiaries, in project design and execution more broadly. This creates a sense of shared ownership, across the UK and internationally, and builds trust in science as a partnership endeavour rather than a specialist occupation. We will build on our experience with the Newton Fund Impact Scheme to provide accelerator funding to translate research outcomes into impact worldwide.

See also