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The art of R&D

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The government has committed to increasing the amount of public money spent on research and development (R&D). Historically, R&D funding has gone towards economic sectors such as science, health and heavy industry. Meanwhile, the arts, humanities and social sciences (AHSS) have been overlooked.

However, increasingly, there is strong evidence that the creative industries are a highly innovative and productive sector.

A significant barrier that is holding back innovation investment into the arts, humanities and social sciences is the way that we think about and define R&D.  Recent research has challenged the traditional image of researchers as exclusively scientists or engineers working in laboratories or workshops. Instead, we know that lots of R&D is cross-disciplinary. Knowledge generated by one field, such as psychology or medicine, are combined with creative technologies to build innovative products, such as apps to support the patient experience. 

This research report argues that, to keep the UK’s creative industries productive, valuable and high growth, we need to update the definition of R&D so that innovation in the arts, humanities and social sciences becomes eligible for tax relief – as is the case in countries including Austria, Germany, Korea and Norway. 

It builds on previous research published by the PEC to make recommendations to policymakers, businesses, and data collectors about how to better incentivise more R&D in creative industries organisations. Specifically, it argues that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) should include arts, humanities and social sciences in it’s definition of R&D. 

This research report is being published as part of the PEC’s spotlight week on R&D. Alongside this report, we are publishing policy briefs and blogs that explain exactly why R&D is so important to the creative industries, and why it is so important that they are provided with more innovation funding.

Please reference this discussion paper as:

Bakhshi, H. (2022) The Art of R&D. Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre. Available from:

This paper was published as part of the PEC’s Spotlight on R&D Week that ran from the 14th – 18th January 

Image credit: Photo by mali maeder from Pexels

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