The week commencing 14 May 2018 was certainly one to remember for all of the opportunities it brought to showcase UK bioscience across the nation.

As part of the formal launch of UK Research and Innovation, we were delighted that on Monday the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Sam Gymiah, visited the soon to be completed Quadram Institute on the Norwich Research Park. The Minister was accompanied by UK Research and Innovation CEO Sir Mark Walport and I, along with other partners including Quadram’s Director, Ian Charles, University of East Anglia Vice-Chancellor David Richardson and Mark Davis, CE of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals. Minister Gymiah met early career researchers and heard about their work on understanding antimicrobial resistance, food-bourne pathogens and the importance the gut microbiome plays in shaping our health. Both the Minister and Sir Mark talked about the important place that multidisciplinary institutes have in the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem and recognised the unique aspects of the Quadram Institute, bringing together fundamental bioscience research on food and health with clinical endoscopy services. A personal moment for me during the visit was being interviewed for BBC Look East – a programme I grew up with and one that I had never imagined I would appear on!

The British Library was the location for the formal launch of UK Research and Innovation later the same day, coinciding with the publication of UK Research and Innovation’s strategic prospectus. Secretary of State, Greg Clark, and Minister Gymiah both emphasised the important role that research and innovation have to play in the UK’s future prosperity and reiterated the government’s commitment to increase spend on R&D to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

The 10th BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition came to its climax at an awards ceremony on Wednesday. I was delighted to host the event and Sir Mark Walport, Malcolm Skingle (Director of Academic Liaison, Glaxo Smith Kline Ltd and a member of BBSRC Council) and I really enjoyed meeting all 12 finalists and discussing their work. This year, more than any other, saw an incredibly diverse range of innovations and innovators reach the final stages. I was thrilled that we had our first female winner of the Overall Innovator of the Year – Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, along with colleague Professor Rob Honey, from Cardiff University. Their work, rooted in behavioural neuroscience, has had real impact in the way that fire and rescue service incident control commanders make decisions and is now incorporated into national guidelines. The relevance of this was not lost on the audience as Sabrina reminded us so eloquently in her ‘acceptance speech’ that the public inquiry into the Grenfell disaster was about to get underway.

On Thursday morning, Radio 4’s Today programme was broadcast live from Aberystwyth University, with bioscience featuring heavily and BBSRC being name-checked by Dr Fiona Corke for our support of the National Plant Phenomics Centre, part of the Institute for Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences. Oh, and I should also mention Caroline Dean’s appearance on Radio 4’s ‘The Life Scientific’ on Tuesday – fascinating!

As always, it was a real pleasure, and a privilege, to both celebrate and promote bioscience-led discoveries and impacts, while learning a little more about the details behind the headlines. And it was fantastic to be able to share a few of the achievements enabled by BBSRC investment with so many others – right across the UK – in the space of one short week.

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