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Science and innovation

Shaping the debate on matters important to the physics community in the UK and Ireland. 


The IOP’s ambition is to transform the physics landscape for the UK and Ireland, and ensure a thriving physics ecosystem that will further discovery, research, innovation, growth and debate in the UK, Ireland and beyond. 

As such, we are building our capacity to shape the debate on matters important to our members and the wider physics community in academia and business across the UK and Ireland in order to influence and drive impact. This is enabling a more systematic way to create an ongoing programme of impact projects. 

Our science and innovation impact projects complement the longer-term goals of our R&D blueprint, and aim to provide specific near-term insight and action to make a difference. 

Shape the debate

Member engagement and influencing senior stakeholders are core to our impact projects, and inclusion is at the heart of everything we do, since we know diversity of thought improves outcomes.

Every year, IOP will typically run four impact projects. These will involve convening community debates, gathering evidence, setting out recommendations and facilitating action, that may, for example: 

  • influence national science and technology strategies and investment
  • create roadmaps that set out how physics can address sector challenges
  • address business innovation and growth issues
  • showcase important but less understood areas of physics and the difference it can make
  • explore international best practice and collaboration opportunities

See examples of IOP science and innovation impact projects below

Who should get involved

You should get involved if you are a member, physicist, researcher, innovator, engineer, or business leader.  We need the expertise and input of IOP members like you to bring our impact projects to life.  

Members will also have the opportunity to join our impact project teams, either as partners or secondees, to strengthen our knowledge and capacity and help us deliver tangible results for the community.

Wide and effective membership engagement is critical, and we want to make sure all members can participate, inclusive of: 

  • women, people from ethnic minorities, disabled people, LGBT+ individuals and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as they are currently under-represented in the physics community
  • members across all parts of the UK and Ireland
  • universities and other research and innovation organisations, including national R&D facilities
  • businesses of different sizes and at all stages, working across diverse sectors and technologies 

Make a submission

The call for submissions to shape the debate for 2024 is now closed.

Selecting impact project topics

Submissions will be reviewed by IOP’s Vice-presidents for Science and Innovation and Business, along with an advisory panel of members who will help to identify matters that will shape the debate in 2024.  

The IOP aims to take forward up to four issues to form impact projects each year. Whilst not all submissions will be taken forward as impact projects, all issues and topics raised will be considered as part of wider organisational focus and planning.

Please note, this is not a funding call to support external projects and is not connected to the IOP Challenge Fund. This call is to seek community views on issues impacting physics, where the IOP is well placed to convene community discussions with stakeholders to drive change.  

Our impact projects

2023 

Physics Powering the Green Economy

The IOP set out the central role that physics innovation and physicists have played in realising the green economy of today, and the equally key part they will need to play in scaling up a sustainable, internationally competitive green economy in the UK and Ireland for the future – in particular as a ‘systems challenge’ how the skills that physicists have, and their way of thinking, is important in solving such a problem.

Targeted support for physics R&D, and business innovation, as part of a long-term systems approach to leadership, coordination and delivery to unlock more of the contribution physics can make, is vital to realising a thriving green economy in the UK and Ireland.

The IOP and the physics community are a partner in this grand challenge. We will conduct further work on this topic in 2024.

Read the Physics Powering the Green Economy report

Positioning, Navigation and Timing

Exploring how future advances in PNT technologies could drive innovation and economic growth across many sectors in the UK and Ireland. 

Send us an email to register your interest

Venture capital

Engaging with venture capital firms to better understand their interests and barriers to investing in physics, and helping to encourage more investment in physics growth markets in the future.

Send us an email to register your interest

2022

A Vision for Quantum Technologies in the UK

The IOP shaped the debate on quantum, engaging with experts in business, academia, finance and intermediaries to set the ambition for growth of the UK quantum sector.  

This resulted in our ‘Vision for Quantum Technologies in the UK’ report that called for a long-term approach, with innovation roadmaps.  Recommendations from the report included scaling up the UK quantum research and innovation community across business, academia and finance; investment in skills; and support for international partnerships.  

The impact of this work can clearly be seen in the National Quantum Strategy, which sets out a ten-year ambition for the UK to lead the world in quantum technologies, delivering jobs and opportunities in advanced manufacturing and engineering across both hardware and software, as well as applications across the economy. The strategy is supported by a commitment to invest £2.5 billion in the sector, with the aim of attracting significant additional private investment on top of that. 

Another legacy from this impact project has been the formation of a new IOP quantum Business Innovation and Growth Group (qBIG) for IOP members involved in quantum commercial applications. Find out more about the qBIG group.

Read A Vision for Quantum Technologies in the UK report

UK Semiconductor Challenges and Solutions

The IOP, in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering, engaged semiconductor experts in business, academia and intermediaries around the key issues of access to skills and electronic design tools.   

The resulting report summarised their views to inform government strategy development, suggesting a number of solutions to the issues raised by the community, including addressing visa issues; funding for equitable internship schemes; funding for an information campaign to raise awareness of the semiconductor industry; a coordinated approach to skills challenges across technology areas with common needs; taking decisive action to break down stereotypes about physics, science and apprenticeships; and a new ‘semiconductor institute’ to provide a range of essential functions to support the sector.  

Following the report, the UK Government published a public invitation to tender for a feasibility study into the need for a set of new semiconductor infrastructure capabilities within the UK, including a strategic coordination function to provide institutional leadership for the sector’s academic and innovation ecosystem.

Read UK Semiconductor Challenges and Solutions report

2020 

Materials for Energy Transition

The Henry Royce Institute (Royce) for advanced materials, in collaboration with the IOP, convened the academic and industrial materials research communities to explore the increasingly critical role of novel materials and processes to deliver affordable, reliable and above all, green energy. The output was a series of detailed technology roadmaps that set out how UK materials science can contribute to the UK’s low carbon energy transition. 

View the roadmaps

2018 

Cover image for The health of photonics

The Health of Photonics

This project brought together business leaders from large, medium and small companies from  different sectors, as well as innovators in academia, to articulate how photonics ties together their sectors and how physics can support industrial growth. The result was a report that recommended further research and investment in photonics and emphasised the role that physics will play in maintaining the UK’s status as a global leader in light-based technologies.

Read The Health of Photonics report

2017 

The Health of Physics in UK Food Manufacturing

This impact work was driven by IOP members in collaboration with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, Food and Drink Federation, and the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN). It resulted in a report on the health of physics in food manufacturing, looking at the role of physics in enabling global competitiveness and productivity.  Report recommendations were discussed at the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee on 5 December 2017, and the output from the meeting included a letter to the BEIS Minister reinforcing the case to boost funding to research and innovation in food manufacturing.

Read IOP Food Physics Newsletter

Read The Health of Physics in UK Food Manufacturing report

2015 

A Review of UK Astroparticle Physics Research

This project, commissioned by the Science and Innovation Committee of the IOP, reviewed the health of UK academic astroparticle physics.  It reviewed, in an international context, the support for and progress of UK astroparticle physics over the past decade; assessed UK astroparticle physics in light of the scope of Research Councils UK (RCUK) and other funding sources; and recommended a broad strategy for UK astroparticle physics for the next 10 years. 

Read A Review of UK Astroparticle Physics Research report