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Productivity programme

How we are meeting the challenge of unlocking the full potential of physics for society and the economy.


In developing our strategy, ‘Unlocking the Future’, we committed to transforming the physics landscape for the UK and Ireland, and ensuring a thriving physics ecosystem that will contribute to innovation, discovery, research, growth and debate in the UK, Ireland and beyond.

Physics plays a fundamental role in our society and economy. The knowledge and ingenuity of physicists have helped to improve our prosperity, health and quality of life.

In the years to come, we will depend more on knowledge and skills from physics and other disciplines to address the challenges facing us, whether through diagnosis and treatment in healthcare, living more prosperously and sustainably, addressing our energy needs or protecting our biodiversity. In all these ways, and others, physics has the potential to improve our lives.

The goal of the productivity programme is to unlock the powerful potential of physics so that the UK and Ireland can realise the full societal and economic benefits of the new industrial era.

To do this, the UK and Ireland must become science superpowers. This means meeting and then exceeding target levels of public and private investment in research and development (R&D) (2.4% of GDP in the UK, 2.5% of GNP in Ireland) and focusing more of that investment on ground-breaking research in physics, cutting-edge innovation, skills development, facilities and infrastructure.

Our work to advance these goals for the UK and Ireland, by engaging and influencing governments, funders and decision makers in industry and business, is underpinned by evidence and strategic partnerships. We have commissioned research to build a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of physics across the UK and Ireland and a fuller understanding of the current and future needs of industry and researchers.

To spearhead the programme’s work, we are developing a blueprint for a thriving R&D ecosystem. The blueprint will be based on comprehensive community engagement and will set out the conditions needed to create more, and more impactful, R&D.

We will report on the impact of this work, alongside other activities, as our strategy progresses.

These pages bring together the projects that make up our productivity programme, through which we seek to meet our ambitions for unlocking capability in physics in the UK and Ireland. This body of work will develop as further projects are announced through the life of the strategy.

Innovation survey: UK findings

The project seeks to understand the conditions that physics-based businesses in the UK are currently operating in, what drives them to innovate and what inhibits innovation. 

Read more and download the reports

Physics and the Economy – 2022 findings

New project shows that physics is a highly productive sector and a pillar of the UK and Irish economies.

Read more

Workforce Skills Project

The project is designed to develop a more detailed picture of the UK and Ireland’s physics-related skills requirements. Now includes our full report.

Read more and download the report