I can’t believe that we are already in February! Since coming back from my holiday at the beginning of January (long planned family trip to the sun somewhat marred initially by Force 8 gales in the Atlantic), I have been meeting a number of key stakeholders in BIS, both individually and with my RCUK Chief Executive colleagues, one occasion being the regular RCUK Executive Group meeting with David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science.

These meetings have only served to emphasise the importance of communicating our impact in ways that are clear and easily understandable to non-specialists. As I have said before we have great stories to tell, but we need to tailor the message to the intended audience more effectively.

Members of the BBSRC Executive and I had a very productive discussion with the Institute Directors and the Chairs of their respective governing bodies – amongst other outcomes there was broad agreement to make use of the cross-institute communications and engagement group to ensure that we coordinate and align communication activities wherever possible. This will enable us to convey very strong messages to stakeholders on key issues for UK bioscience.

There were other meetings as well including BBSRC Audit Board and the Bioscience for Society Strategy Panel.

I am trying to meet all the different sections in the BBSRC Swindon Office and have already had some productive meetings. Last week I met with Jan Juillerat’s People and Development Group and had good debate around what they are doing internally, interactions with the Institutes’ HR functions, diversity and leadership.

Of course the highlight of the past two weeks has to be the launch of our 20th anniversary year and the publication of our refreshed strategic plan. The team from BBSRC’s External Relations Unit did a superb job of organising the launch event and produced a very clear banner showing the timelines of some of the key events in BBSRC’s 20 years (which is also online http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/timeline).

Sir Tom Blundell gave an excellent speech highlighting his role in the formation of BBSRC and his years as its first Chief Executive. My contribution focused on the future of BBSRC and confirmed our commitment to funding excellent bioscience research and training the next generation of bioscientists. David Willetts gave a stimulating talk focusing on three main areas – the potential of GM in sustainable food production, the need to seize opportunities for international collaboration and synthetic biology. He announced the award of £40M to three new BBSRC/EPSRC Synthetic Biology Research Centres in Cambridge-Norwich, Bristol and Nottingham and I would like to congratulate the recipients and look forward to hearing more about the progress of these centres in due course.

Sir Tom’s contribution to bioscience is also featured on the BBSRC 20th anniversary webpage as one of the first in a yearlong series of Great British Bioscience Pioneers. Throughout 2014, we will be using our anniversary to highlight the many achievements and impacts of BBSRC and UK bioscience for science, society and the economy.

This coming week is also very varied with visits to Norwich and interviews for new council members. Hopefully there will also be some time to catch up on the science – my pile of un-read journals is getting uncomfortably large.

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