Friday, March 24, 2006

Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014: next steps

The headline above is linked to the full report (pdf 63pp). You may also want to refer to earlier documentation on the Science and Innovation Investment Framework.

The paper addresses five key policy areas: maximising the impact of public investment in science on the economy through increasing innovation; increasing Research Councils’ effectiveness; supporting excellence in university research; supporting world-class health research; and increasing the supply of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Every part of this paper will affect us: our research; our interactions with industry; our interactions with other disciplines (particularly medicine and biology); our teaching; and our recruitment and interactions with secondary education.

Chapter 7 is an invitation for comments, with the consultation period ending on 16th June 2006. I anticipate that College and the University will ask for input to a University response well in advance of this date. Arrangements of collecting and collating comments, and formulating our response to the consultation, will be announced shortly.

Some highlights:

proposals for reform

1.10 ... improving the strategic management of investment in science and innovation, to ensure that the UK’s science and innovation system is more responsive to economic and public policy priorities, and that different funding mechanisms are coordinated more effectively ...

The 2008 RAE will be the last (if it happens!)

4.18 The Government is aware that preparations for the 2008 RAE are well underway. It is therefore the Government’s presumption that the 2008 RAE should go ahead, incorporating a shadow metrics exercise alongside the traditional panel-based peer review system. However, if an alternative system is agreed and widely supported, and a clear majority of UK universities were to favour an earlier move to a simpler system, the Government would be willing to consider that.

Maximising the impact of science on innovation

Building on its success to date, the Government expects the Technology Strategy Board to play an increasing role in contributing to the development of the Government’s innovation strategy across all important sectors of the UK economy. The Technology Strategy Board will have a wider remit to stimulate innovation in those areas which offer the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity, and plans for it to operate at arms length from central government are being developed.

2.35 Looking forward, the Government is keen to ensure that best practice in business university collaboration is shared more effectively. Business-university engagement remains inconsistent across industries and regions.

Suggestion that PPARC and EPSRC might merge

3.14 PPARC currently has a role both as a grant-giving Research Council and as an investor in large facilities. This has created different funding arrangements for different parts of the physical sciences, the remainder being the responsibility of EPSRC. If the large facilities operations currently managed by PPARC were to be transferred to a new LFC, this would be an opportunity to integrate PPARC’s grant-giving operations with EPSRC.

... and more ...

5 Supporting world-class health research

6 Improving the supply of scientists


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