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Trusted Research

What you need to know

Trusted Research is a government initiative to highlight the risks that may be encountered by researchers and institutions when undertaking research, sharing ideas and/or working jointly with international partners. 

Trusted Research:

  • Outlines the potential risks to UK research and innovation
  • Helps researchers, UK universities and industry partners to have confidence in international collaboration and make informed decisions around those potential risks
  • Explains how to protect research and staff from potential theft, misuse or exploitation

The initiative covers a wide range of areas, including:

  • Partner suitability
  • Managing data and cyber security
  • Intellectual Property (IP)
  • Commercialisation
  • Export Control

A note on export control

Export control applies equally to the academic community as to any other exporter, and from an academic perspective may touch on a range of areas of academic exchange which might enable technology transfer, either verbally, physically or electronically. Failure to obtain a licence to export controlled goods (or transfer knowledge on related controlled technologies) may result in a criminal offence being committed.

The following routine academic activities could be covered by export control:

  • Research on behalf of an international partner
  • International collaboration
  • Presentations at conferences
  • Export of materials
  • Teaching
  • Academic exchange with a colleague at an overseas institution

Trusted Research (and the National Security and Investment Act 2021) is especially relevant to STEM subjects, emerging technologies and commercially sensitive research such as:

  • Advanced Materials
  • Advanced Robotics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Civil Nuclear
  • Communications
  • Computing Hardware
  • Critical Suppliers to Government
  • Cryptographic Authentication
  • Data Infrastructure
  • Defence
  • Energy
  • Military and Dual-Use technologies
  • Quantum Technologies
  • Satellite and Space Technologies
  • Suppliers to the Emergency Services
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Transport

Further details on each of these areas can be found here.

However, due to the scope of the obligations we recommend that all researchers familiarise themselves with this information as failure to do so could result in:

  • Potential breach of national or international legislation (See for example: NSI Act & Export Control legislation)
  • Interference with academic freedom
  • Reputational risk for individual researchers and Institutions
  • Loss of data, results or other intellectual property through theft, cyber espionage, or other means.

To help with this, the government has established The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), which has created Trusted Research Guidance for Academia (2019).  When considering engaging with an international partner the CPNI has produced a checklist to help researchers evaluate new partners: Trusted Research Checklist for Academia.pdf (

CPNI also provide links to external resources to help inform your decision about the suitability of research with specific partners:

CPNI have also posted four short videos highlighting possible problems that may arise in the following areas:

In addition to the guidance from CPNI, UKRI have published key information and guidance and Trusted Research and Innovation Principles and Universities UK has developed guidance on managing risks in internationalisation: security related issues

If you wish to discuss any of the issues raised by Trusted Research please contact RSDO – Adam Bell ( or  Ali Syed (