A New Model for Science

Technology Policy Science & Innovation

A New Model for Science

Posted on: 4th August 2022
By Multiple Authors
Henry Fingerhut
Senior Policy Analyst, Science & Innovation unit
Benedict Macon-Cooney
Deputy Executive Director, Technology and Public Policy
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New types of scientific institutions are needed to accelerate and unlock research progress and enable startups in critical technical fields like energy, medicine, and biosecurity.

This new report, co-published with the Entrepreneurs Network and Convergent Research, sets out an emerging institutional model for scientific research – Focused Research Organisations (FROs).

FROs undertake projects that are:

  • too big for a single academic lab to do,

  • too complex for a loose, multi-lab collaboration, 

  • and not directly profitable enough for a venture-backed startup or industrial R&D project.

Key features of FROs are:

  • They are run by full-time technical founders who oversee 10-30 employees

  • They pursue specific, quantifiable technical milestones rather than doing blue-sky research

  • They are finite-duration (5-7 years) efforts 

  • As they near completion, they translate what they have built into venture-backed startup spinouts and/or longer-lived nonprofits

The UK has unique opportunities to leverage the FRO model in biomedicine and net-zero carbon technologies. This is thanks to research infrastructure like the UK Biobank and NHS data sharing programmes; ambitious, innovation-oriented programmes such as the Net Zero plan and ARIA; and research translation and technology dissemination mechanisms such as the Catapult Network and NHS Transformation Directorate. 


Download the full briefing here.

(Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash)

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