Why it matters

Driven by the BBC’s Royal Charter remit, in particular Clause 87 governing research work, the Executive Board must ensure that the BBC conducts research and development activities, which:

  • Maintain the BBC’s position as a centre of excellence for research and development in broadcasting and related technologies.
  • Pay particular attention to the development of “open standards”
  • Are conducted within the BBC and in co-operation with university departments and businesses

In doing so the Executive Board must ensure that an appropriate balance is maintained between the potential to generate revenue by commercialising Intellectual Property and the value that is delivered to licence fee payers and the UK economy by making new developments widely and openly available.

Partnerships and collaborations are therefore key to our charter obligations for research and, importantly, they add value to BBC output and services through inventions and innovations developed collaboratively with partners from academia and industry.

What we do

Through R&D partnerships we aim to:

  • Extend BBC R&D’s, and the wider BBC’s sphere of influence with academia, industry, and with funding and standards bodies by identifying and addressing the relevant challenges of tomorrow;
  • Amplify the BBC’s investment in R&D by creating and delivering greater value for our audiences, the wider industry and all our partners by building durable relationships and
  • Develop talented and skilled individuals, training and equipping them to address the future challenges, that will deliver innovative, engaging and accessible content and services.

We do this through:

Collaborative research projects

Across the UK and Europe, a number of major funding programmes exist which encourage and support organisations to collaborate actively on R&D projects. These include the research programmes developed and funded by major funding bodies such as the European Commission, the UK Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the UK Research Councils amongst others.

We have a rich and successful history of actively contributing to national and international projects run within these research programmes, which have benefited the BBC, the wider broadcast industry and ultimately audiences and consumers, and which are key to some of our longer term strategic research.

We are involved in a broad range of collaborative projects which encompass areas of technology and user experience including Future Internet, augmented reality, compression technologies, interactive 3D tools, personalised programme recommenders, automated production tools, white spaces and spectrum protection, new networks and distribution technologies, and many more. In addition we support a diverse portfolio of research studentships mainly at PhD level through full-time sponsorship and short-term agile internships.

We also proactively contribute to influencing and shaping the strategic research agendas of key funding bodies to help ensure that research themes important to the BBC can be taken up at UK and European levels.


We pro-actively contribute to a wide range of Standards and Industry Bodies and promote the adoption of open standards through our involvement in organisations such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), amongst others.

Our involvement in standardisation fulfils the BBC’s Charter agreement to take a leadership role within industry influencing and developing open standards, which facilitate end-to-end interoperability, giving users both professional and consumer a better more reliable experience of services and content. It also enables the BBC to influence the direction of technologies and hence future services and content.

Academic partnerships

We collaborate closely with universities through a variety of schemes ranging from short-term knowledge exchange activities, and student internships and staff secondments through to ambitious longer-term Multi-University Research Partnerships, where a critical mass of experts is pulled together to address complex problems over a period of 4 or 5 years. Through these partnerships we seek to work with leading academics who are ‘best-of-breed’ in their respective fields and relevant to our R&D work plan, and the challenges we are addressing.