My initial meeting last week was a very pleasant trip to listen to part of the annual symposium of the BSBEC consortium. I am not going to pick out any specific talks or posters (for which I presented the prizes), as that would be egregious, but I can safely comment – as did members of the Scientific Advisory Board – that there is very exciting and world-leading work being done here, that has the potential to improve yields, conversions and processes significantly. [...]
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. [...]
The first external visit of the week was to Unilever’s research laboratory at Port Sunlight. As a company with interests in food, health and healthcare, and with a published intention to move towards full sustainability of its value chain by 2020, it was not surprising to see that their strategic interests map closely onto our own.
We had a useful meeting on the Norwich Research Park with the Directors and Directors of operations of our strategically funded Institutes, including updates on campus developments, plans for sharing facilities and much else.
We also had one of our regular meetings with the Technology Strategy Board. Although there is very frequent and considerable coworking at every level, these meetings, as for those with the Institutes, serve as effective fora to exchange thoughts and knowledge of our activities and strategies. [...]
As well as a variety of internal meetings, I attended a couple of receptions, the first of which was at BIS – largely for industrialists and partner organisations. This was very useful, and I met a number of folk who would not normally see themselves as close to our interests. The second was an annual event (though a first for me) where ‘scientists meet the media’ at the Royal Society. Again I made a number of potentially important contacts that will help get the BBSRC message out.
The main visit of the week was to Harper Adams University College. Harper Adams is a major provider of agricultural education, training and knowledge transfer, as well as (largely applied) research. This was thus an exceptionally interesting visit. Without seeking to pick out specific areas, I note that Harper Adams runs the only UK degree courses in Agricultural Engineering, and I saw some very interesting work at the interface of engineering and agriculture, especially in the areas of using modern technology to plant, sense, weed, and harvest agricultural crops. The whole area of ‘precision agriculture’ is going to provide an important contribution to increasing the productivity of food and non-food crops, and we can expect it to expand significantly. [...]
Last week saw another (and the final) ‘double-header’ of Institute Assessment Panels, the first being that of the Babraham Institute and the second of The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC). Both panels were as usual redolent with real experts, with whom it was also a pleasure to enjoy informal discussions. This coming week completes the Institute Assessment Panels with one visiting the Institute for Animal Health. As with all the others, funding decisions will not be taken until Council meets next March, and this blog does not really comment on such visits. However, I was interested to have my first sight at TGAC of one of the new ‘PacBio’ single-molecule genome sequencing machines. [...]