One of last week’s major meetings was one of our periodic gatherings of the UK Collaborative on Development Sciences, where among other aspects I rehearsed the benefits of Open Access (mentioned last week) for Lower Income Countries.

I enjoyed a talk at the British Library from Nigel Shadbolt on Open Data, was taken through the library’s activities in providing persistent DOIs for datasets (DataCite) and an environmental science resource called Envia. On Open Access, I noted a discussion on the importance of appropriate licensing throughout Europe and elsewhere, and participated in a video about the RCUK Open Access policy.  

I was delighted to attend, and to present the prizes, at our Fifth “Innovator of the Year” Awards, entitled ‘Fostering Innovation’, which this year included a new ‘Activating Impact’ competition and the launch of the new Excellence with Impact scheme. Minister of Universities and Science David Willetts gave an excellent speech, and trailed the likelihood of some funding for the Agri-Tech strategy as part of the Budget announcements

In January BBSRC launched a call for cross-disciplinary, community building Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB). The Networks will foster collaborative activities between academic researchers and business at all levels to identify and develop new approaches to tackle major research challenges and help deliver key benefits in industrial biotechnology. This will be through the application of a range of approaches, including genomic, systems and synthetic biology as well as the underpinning sciences such as biochemistry, enzymology, metabolism and microbiology.

The Networks are currently being developed by the academic community through an open forum on _connect. This enables the widest possible community, including industry, to shape the direction of the Networks prior to their establishment. A substantial number of Networks have now been proposed on _connect and BBSRC encourages comments from industry on the Network discussions to help shape their development before the closing date of 16 April. Being a member of a Network will allow industry access to the activities they will run, to meet academics, and to help develop collaborative proposals for a variety of funding sources. Membership of a Network is required to access the joint BBSRC-TSB £25M Industrial Biotechnology (IB) catalyst. However, while the Networks will continue be open to new members after they are awarded, now is a key time to help shape their directions.

I was very pleased to see that the Government response to Lord Heseltine’s growth report included an acceptance of its recommendation 39, that “The Government should continue to commit to the long term stability of the core funding of science and research, at a level which keeps pace with our international competitors”. I also noted the output (external pdf) of the Commons Select Committee enquiry into the difficulties of commercializing research.

Catching up with Athene Donald’s blog, I noted a couple of interesting pieces on aspects of leadership and on choosing where to publish and why. I also enjoyed an interesting piece by Bloomberg on renewable reserves, a fascinating piece showing that despite the very large sums paid to casino market traders a random strategy performs just as well as them (as trailed), and with lower risk, and would point up a quantitative approach to quality control in certain types of synthetic biology.

Because of the imminence of Easter there will likely be a gap before the next blog; let me take the opportunity to wish a happy holiday to all.

Related posts (based on tags and chronology):