At BBSRC we understand how important our relationships with academics, policy makers, end-users and civil society are.
To deliver our vision of leading world-class bioscience, promoting innovation and realising benefits for society in the UK and beyond we need to work constructively with a huge range of different people and organisations. Some of those interactions are at the highest levels in Government, while many of them, no less important, are at the day-to-day level of delivering investments in bioscience.
To paraphrase management consultancy speak, “you can’t improve it if you can’t measure it”, which is why two years ago we benchmarked our stakeholders’ attitudes to BBSRC. We committed then to running the exercise again in 2016 and we have just published the outcomes of this work.
The 2016 Corporate stakeholder research, conducted by ComRes, draws on 31 in-depth interviews and 507 responses to a detailed questionnaire – many thanks to those of you who took part. There are some real highlights in the report and, of course, areas which we’ll want to improve on.
I was struck by how positively people think of BBSRC – 74% of respondents would speak highly of us, while 79% think that the UK’s world leading position is due, in part, to BBSRC. But for me one of the most rewarding findings was that BBSRC adds value to our stakeholders and also that the expertise and professionalism of my BBSRC colleagues is one of the key means through which we do this – I couldn’t agree more!
Two years ago we found that people struggled to understand bioscience’s contribution to social impact (and, to a lesser extent, economic impact). I’m glad that, thanks to some concerted efforts to address this, both these metrics have improved significantly.
The value of this type of work is not only in telling you what you’re good at but pointing out areas that need improvement. I was initially surprised by a small suite of results which suggest that our stakeholders don’t recognise much of what BBSRC does in policy circles. On reflection, I can see that much of this work – be it working with officials across government or one-to-ones about the future of BBSRC in UKRI – is fairly invisible to the outside world and we need to work to increase awareness.
This gives me a timely opportunity to draw your attention to the policy work we have been involved with around reproducibility in research. In 2015, along with the Academy of Medical Sciences, MRC and Wellcome, we jointly sponsored a symposium on the topic and published a report on the findings. This week we have just published our ‘12 months on’ update (PDF) – highlighting the actions being taken – do take a look.
I’d like to end on another policy-related note, taking the opportunity to thank Prof Tim Benton for all the work he has done leading the Global Food Security programme over his five year term, which has just finished. Tim has been a champion in more than name for the programme and the issues, he personifies the sort of policy work and influence which is possible. Tim has published is own blog on the GFS site which is well worth a read and sets out a bright future for the GFS programme.