LSW and HEFCW Strengthen Focus on Welsh Research Excellence with New Funding Agreement

The critical role that research plays in helping Wales thrive is recognised in a new agreement between the Learned Society of Wales (LSW) and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

A memorandum of understanding (MOU) puts a partnership that began in 2021 on a longer-term footing, with the LSW receiving increasing, ongoing core funding. This will help the LSW achieve strategic aims which align with HEFCW’s Research and Innovation Vision for Wales and deliver against its new five-year strategy, which it launches formally today.

The agreement bolsters the LSW’s role as Wales’ national academy and its work to promote research excellence in Welsh higher education. It also strengthens the LSW’s capacity to act as an independent voice, ensuring that research and innovation is part of policy debates.

“We are delighted to formalise our relationship with the LSW, which builds on the partnership established to take forward the recommendations of the Diamond Review,” said Dr David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW.

“HEFCW and the LSW both believe that high-quality research and innovation are central to Wales’ future prosperity. This agreement will help the LSW expand the work it does to support the people who deliver that research and innovation.

“We have worked together over the past two years to lay the groundwork ahead of this announcement. This has resulted in, for example, the LSW’s Early Career Researchers Network, which is already an important feature of Wales’ research landscape.

“The LSW’s new strategy promises much more of this type of innovation and aligns with HEFCW’s duty to promote a dynamic research culture in Wales.

“This also lays an excellent foundation for the future relationship between the LSW and the incoming Commission for Tertiary Education and Research, and its future research and innovation funding and policy remit.”

The MOU outlines the areas of work the LSW will pursue. They include the ongoing promotion of research excellence, collaboration with partner academies around the UK and through the Celtic Academies Alliance, and work on providing independent advice to policymakers, such as recent contributions on innovation policy, the spread of misinformation and the constitutional future of Wales.

“This is fantastic news,” said Olivia Harrison, Chief Executive of the LSW. “It shows confidence in the role we are playing and will allow us to increase the impact we make through enabling a broader range of activity.

“Our recent series of innovation roundtables and reports shows how the LSW brings its unique voice to bear on pressing policy debates.

“The Celtic Academies Alliance, which we formed with the Royal Irish Academy and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and our work with the UK Young Academy means the voice of Welsh researchers is heard beyond our borders.

“Our Early Career Researchers Network is helping to create an environment in which Wales is an attractive place to be a researcher.

“This partnership with HEFCW will allow us to do so much more of this work, confident of a long-term, shared vision.”

The memorandum of understanding is accompanied by a statement of objectives and priorities.