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The Challenges and Opportunities for UK Research. Professor Adrian Smith Director General, Science and Research, BIS HEPI Autumn 2010 Conference, December 2 nd. Central Spending Review 2010. The Science & Research programme budget protected with a 4 year, flat cash, ring-fenced settlement.

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The Challenges and Opportunities for UK Research

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The challenges and opportunities for uk research l.jpg

The Challenges and Opportunities for UK Research

Professor Adrian Smith

Director General, Science and Research, BIS

HEPI Autumn 2010 Conference, December 2nd

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Central Spending Review 2010

  • The Science & Research programme budget protected with a 4 year, flat cash, ring-fenced settlement.

  • Science & Research community played a vital role in convincing No. 10 and HMT that research is a key investment in the future.

  • “When money is short we should ruthlessly prioritise those areas of public spending which are most likely to support economic growth, including … our science base”

    George Osborne, Spending Review statement, October 20th 2010

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Science & Research settlement compared with other departments

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Spending Review Challenges

  • Flat cash is still an 8.9% cut over the period. Challenge to make up as much as possible from efficiency savings (Wakeham etc.), minimising the actual cut in volume of research.

  • Capital: the community’s two top priority projects, UKCMRI and Diamond Light Source Phase 3, are confirmed. But capital elsewhere will be tight.

  • Conclusion: flat cash is “painful but manageable” – Lord Rees, The Royal Society.

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Competitor nations

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Technology Strategy Board

  • Regional Development Agencies have been abolished. Their business-led technology innovation work, such as R&D grants, will now be handled by the Technology Strategy Board.

  • RDAs were a major funding stream (along with HEIF) for knowledge exchange infrastructure, such as science parks and university incubators. There will be significant challenges in ensuring the future viability of these ventures.

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The Browne Review

  • Aims to put funding of undergraduate courses on a sustainable footing, by shifting bulk of payment from Government to the individual.

  • It is hard to predict how these changes will affect the research pipeline, in particular at the level of taught postgraduate courses. These are often the stepping stone to research training.

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  • Challenge of reconciling Coalition commitment to reduce immigration with the research need to attract the brightest and best from around the world. Salary alone is not an effective filter.

  • Home Office announcement (Nov 23rd) has clarified the situation.

  • For Tier 1 visas (no job yet), academics and scientists can get in through the Exceptional Talent and Exceptional Promise categories, limited to 1000 p.a.

  • For Tier 2 visas (job confirmed), academics and scientists can get in for jobs requiring high level qualifications, with a cap applied monthly.

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Progress in improving the STEM pipeline

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More to be done at A Level

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Reorganisation of BIS

  • BIS was formed in 2009, from the merger of DIUS and BERR.

  • There was always going to be a process of rationalisation, the current public spending environment making this even more important.

  • The groups of Science & Research, Innovation and the Higher Education part of Universities & Skills will form Knowledge and Innovation Group. I have been appointed Director General of this expanded group.

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The New Policy Structure of BIS

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Close working

  • Academic and governmental communities have become closer in recent years.

  • Within Government, there is now a Chief Scientific Adviser in every department (except the Treasury).

  • CSAs meet regularly with the Chief Executives of the Research Councils.

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Interdisciplinary research

  • Recognition that the “grand challenges” facing humanity: ageing populations, energy needs, environmental changes etc. cannot be adequately tackled within a single discipline (or even country).

  • Six cross-council programmes involve input from all the Research Councils, plus various other bodies across government.

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Digital Economy

Cross Council Programmes

Food Security

  • Major response to strategic challenges for the nation – and the world

  • Coordinated impact greater than sum of the parts

Global Uncertainties


Living With Environmental Change

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International collaborations

  • Some of the most complex scientific projects, such as the Large Hadron Collider and nuclear fusion, are well beyond the resources of the UK alone.

  • We are involved in international collaborations such as CERN, the European Space Agency and ITER (through the EU), as well as many smaller Research Council projects.

  • In tough financial times we have been making good progress in negotiating down subscription costs.

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Technology Innovation Centres

  • £200m has been earmarked over the next four years for Technology Innovation Centres, to be overseen by the TSB.

  • They will be based on the model advocated by Hermann Hauser and James Dyson – similar but not identical to the Fraunhofer Centres in Germany.

  • The aim is to provide a stronger bridge between research and technology commercialisation, de-risking the investment process for businesses.

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  • TICs are part of a ministerial strategy to develop clusters. where scientific facilities, world-class universities and hi-tech businesses are grouped in close proximity.

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The Key role of Higher Education

  • Receives two-thirds of S&R budget!

  • Implications of Browne/SR ?

  • Greater mission diversity?

  • More HEI shared use of R resources?

  • International R positioning?

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