The UK government's Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has published the report of the Triennial Review of the Research Councils. The review concluded that the current structure remained appropriate, but makes recommendations on various changes that aim at improving the use of public funds, accountability and efficiency. The report contains much interesting material
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Department of Business, Innovation and Skills
The UK parliament’s House of Lords Science and Technology held an inquiry in 2013 on Scientific Infrastructure. Their report was positive, but argued that the UK lacked a long-term strategy and investment plan for scientific infrastructure; and failed to provide adequately for operational costs at facilities.
The report also recommended a more active role for the UK in developing EU infrastructures. There were concerns that the benefits of Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) in providing national capabilities and acting as custodians of data, expertise and facilities, was being eroded by an over-emphasis on profit margins and uncertainty over long term funding.
The UK government has now responded and has announced a consultation on long term science and research capital and an advisory group that will inform a roadmap on long term science capital – this is seen as a central element of a Science and Innovation Strategy to be published in Autumn 2014. The UK Research Councils also provided a short response.
The UK Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has published Science and Innovation: international benchmarking, showing the UK in an international context with a few other countries. Shows areas of strength and weakness for the UK, with a strong message of the importance of sustained national investment in R&D, where the UK is falling behind similar countries.
In a broader international context, it's interesting to read the biennial OECD Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard 2013: Innovation for Growth which gives detailed international comparisons within OECD and for a range of other countries. This is published in alternate years to an outlook statistical report, the latest being the OECD Science, Technology and Industry Outlook 2012.
UK statistics on Science, Engineering and Technology are published annually, with the most recent for 2013. A useful overview since 1995 was produced in 2013 by the National Audit Office for the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to inform its 2013 inquiry on Research and Development Funding for Science and Technology in the UK.
Just out from the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - International Education Strategy: global growth and prosperity. Includes commercial educational technology such as online education.
The UK government Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has issued a new Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth. Emphasis on strengthening the science base, links with business, and the environment for commercialisation. Specific research measures include encouraging universities to develop more multi-partner consortia; and more open access to publicly-funded data and publications. Commentary from Nature.
Launched on 19 October, the UK government report on the International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base: 2011. The summary reads: "The UK is a world leader in research, and is the world leader in terms of research efficiency per researcher and per unit of spending on research. However, the global landscape of research is fluid, dynamic and intensively competitive. Other countries are outpacing the UK in terms of growth in number of researchers and spending on research. The UK is well positioned, but its ability to sustain its leadership position is far from inevitable." Mixed success in knowledge transfer and vulnerabilities in terms of competitive growth of science.
The UK government (BIS) is looking at public attitudes to science in 2011 to update on a 2008 exercise that informed the policy programme on public engagement and science in society. Report of a briefing and discussion session at the British Science Association's recent science communication meeting, and the Science and Public Attitudes website and blog.
An interview with John Beddington on science advice, public engagement, risk and science policy. Final emphasis on climate change. Not sure that I agree with his view of media caution and chemical regulation in the environment: although it is true to say that there is a heavy emphasis on hazard derived from laboratory information, the problem with using risk effectively is that data to allow good calculation of environmental risk are difficult to obtain (although much better in the past couple of decades), particularly when thinking of the combined effects of different chemicals in the environment. The emphasis on hazard has come about not solely as a result of public attitudes - negative impacts of regulation by risk based on lab data in the past has been problematic.