The best estimates that we have is that the proportion of commercial and non-commercial funded medical research is 48% and 52% respectively. This is taken from analysis produced by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) published in 2014 which estimated total health research and development (R&D) funding in the United Kingdom was £8.5 billion.
The figures for commercial research come from a variety of sources. The 2014 UKCRC analysis draws on the Office for National Statistics Business Enterprise Research and Development (ONS BERD) survey which was used to provide private sector data where relevant research is categorised as ‘pharmaceuticals’. This will under-estimate private sector investment as other product groups may be relevant to health research and the private sector will fund research outside of the business, for example, in academia. In 2014, pharmaceuticals R&D totalled £4.1 billion. The more recent ONS BERD survey of 2017 indicated that this has increased to £4.3 billion.
For the 52% of non-commercial funded medical research in 2014, approximately £4.4 billion, this was made up of funding predominantly from the Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), other research councils and from medical research charities.
In 2016/17, Government funding for medical research was mainly distributed by the MRC, now part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), and the NIHR, funded by the Department, which invested £0.8 billion and £1.0 billon in medical research respectively. Other UKRI research councils also contribute to medical research in addition to funding from other Government departments and the devolved administrations.
In 2016, the Association of Medical Research Charities’ members invested £1.6 billion into medical research.