Strategic partnerships with universities

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) invests around £260 million per year in UK universities to fund excellent research and training for the widest possible benefit. We work closely with the university sector to deliver our ambitious strategy for UK bioscience, and value our interactions with all universities.

We maintain strategic partnerships with our top-funded universities, which collectively represent more than 50% of our university funding portfolio. Through this dialogue we enable a more joined-up, synergistic and efficient approach to supporting, investing in, and championing UK bioscience. We review membership of this group every three years.

How do strategic partnerships work?

Strategic partnerships involve increased dialogue between BBSRC and senior management of partner universities (usually at the level of vice chancellor, pro vice chancellor (research) and Head of School) to understand each other’s strategic priorities and direction.

Interactions take place through regular teleconferences and visits, at which we discuss a range of strategic issues of mutual interest. Partnership is important and underlines the two-way nature of the relationships. Being a strategic partner does not mean special funding or favouritism for the university.

A valuable aspect of this dialogue is the role that universities play as ‘critical friends’ in the early stages of wider consultations on new strategies and policies, and as advocates for the importance of bioscience research.

How are strategic partnerships established?

BBSRC uses the following principles to identify strategic partners:

  • identification of strategic partner universities is based on the average value of an institution’s BBSRC-funded research grants portfolio on the 1 April for the three years preceding the review date
  • the number of BBSRC strategic partner universities is agreed at the point of review, informed by the proportion of BBSRC’s research grants portfolio; we would typically expect to support around 10 partnerships, representing approximately 50% of BBSRC’s research grant funding to universities
  • given the long-term nature of relationship management, and to ensure that both parties can gain value from the relationship, strategic partnerships will be reviewed every three years.

The next triennial review will take place in summer 2024.

Our current strategic partners are:

  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College London
  • The University of Leeds
  • The University of Manchester
  • The University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • University College London


Strategy and Planning Team

Last updated: 31 March 2022

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