The polling has been carried out as part of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE)’s Discovery Decade programme by Public First.
Some 58 per cent of 2,050 respondents said that funding research in the UK should be a high or top priority for political parties in the UK. When asked how much of a priority R&D was for the two largest UK-wide parties, 38 per cent said it was a high or top priority for the Conservatives and 39 per cent said the same for Labour.
The latest polling builds on CaSE’s dataset exploring public attitudes to R&D, which has surveyed over 20,000 people over the last 18 months. This has shown that many people believe that R&D has an important role to play in tackling issues including the cost of living, climate change and improving the NHS.
In a statement, Dr Ben Bleasdale, director of CaSE’s Discovery Decade programme, said: “Political parties are busy developing their policies for the General Election next year. Our new polling shows that a majority of the public view funding R&D as a political priority, and that almost three-quarters would welcome more R&D on their high street.
“With neither Labour nor the Conservatives securing a lead on R&D in voters’ minds, both parties have an opportunity to put R&D at the centre of their strategy for tackling the issues that matter to voters, from the cost of living to sustainable public services.”
The polling also found 71 per cent of respondents supporting government action to make the UK the best place for a company to set up a research department, and 49 per cent thinking that the UK used to lead the world in research but no longer does.
Ahead of the General Election, CaSE has set out four priorities for the new government, namely to commit to a long-term plan for investment in R&I, support skills for science and engineering, build on regional R&I strengths, and support business R&I investment.