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University research

Scotland's universities have an international reputation for excellent research that delivers economic and social benefits for both Scotland and the wider world. More information on Scotland's reputation is available on the science and research page.

We support Scottish universities to use this reputation to consistently attract and secure funding from a range of sources.

Public funding

Public funding for university research in Scotland is delivered by a dual support system comprising:

  • a block grant given by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC)
  • competitively awarded grants from the UK-wide Research Councils

The Scottish Government is the largest single source of university research funding in Scotland, with funding allocated through the SFC. The SFC supports the competitiveness of Scotland's research base through a range of investments, as well as the training and development of postgraduate teaching and research students.

As part of our overall funding for higher education, we are investing £279 million in core research and knowledge exchange and innovation in our universities from 2017 to 2018.

Read information on Scotland’s international research funding on the international research collaboration page.

Research pooling

We also support the internationalisation of the Scottish Funding Council's research pooling initiative. This initiative encourages researchers across Scottish higher education institutions to pool their resources and respond to increasing international competition by forming dynamic collaborations.

Since 2005 the SFC has allocated £156 million to 11 research pools, covering:

  • physics
  • chemistry
  • engineering
  • geosciences/environment and society
  • economics
  • life sciences
  • brain imaging
  • informatics and computer science
  • Gaelic language and culture
  • marine science

Innovation Centres

Universities routinely translate their research into tangible economic and social benefits for Scotland, supporting sustainable economic growth.

We are investing up to £120 million over six years in our network of Innovation Centres: collaborations between businesses, universities and others to capitalise on Scotland's world-class research to enhance innovation in and across Scotland's key economic sectors.

There are currently eight Innovation Centres:

The Innovation Centres are bringing together the research excellence within our universities and our business sector to deliver real social economic benefits. You can read more about them on the Innovation Centres website.

Spin-out creation

Scotland is the most successful part of the UK for the creation of spin-outs: companies formed as the result of work done in universities.

Scotland hosts 20% of all active spin-outs from UK universities, and five spin-outs from universities in the UK top 20 (source: 2015 Spinouts UK Report).