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The Challenges and Opportunities for UK Research

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  1. The Challenges and Opportunities for UK Research Professor Adrian Smith Director General, Science and Research, BIS HEPI Autumn 2010 Conference, December 2nd

  2. 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

  3. Science & Research settlement compared with other departments

  4. 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.

  5. Competitor nations

  6. Challenges

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Migration • 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.

  10. Progress in improving the STEM pipeline

  11. More to be done at A Level

  12. Opportunities

  13. 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.

  14. The New Policy Structure of BIS

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Energy 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 Ageing Living With Environmental Change

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

  20. Clusters • 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.

  21. 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?