Last week was extremely busy and varied, starting in Swindon and ending in Manchester. The recurrent themes for the week were value and impact. I attended a meeting of the Foundation for Science and Technology which discussed how best to maximize the value of UK strengths in research, innovation and higher education. There were some interesting perspectives put forward by the speakers including the continued need for cultural change, including an increase in risk taking, in both academia and industry to realize the UK’s true potential; the fact that British companies have adapted to the changing business environment but not actually changed their modus operandi and really driven innovation; how the impact agenda including schemes from ourselves and other research councils has begun to drive people thinking about the broader outcomes of research not just in economic terms, and good examples of academia-industry interactions such as the National Structural Integrity Research Centre were mentioned. [...]
One major meeting of last week was our latest Audit Board meeting, that covered a variety of areas of importance to ensuring the orderly running of BBSRC, including scrutiny of our financial audits and of potential risks of various kinds.
We also had the last of our community ‘conversations’ at a well-attended venue in London, constituting the last of our ‘roadshows’ for this season. One topic which we trailed involved some plans for rolling out funding in Industrial Biotechnology, where we plan further open meetings in the new year; these were also one discussion topic of an extended internal strategy meeting that took place last week. [...]
As part of a truncated post-Easter week I had a very interesting meeting with Ketan Patel, author of a very interesting book and who I had met at the STS Forum last autumn. A particular focus was on sustainability and how to estimate the full environmental and economic costs of various strategies, especially in agriculture, bioenergy and industrial biotechnology.
Continuing that theme, I attended part of the very interesting BSBEC grantholders workshop, where excellent progress is being made in this large and wide-ranging programme in sustainable bioenergy.
I had a very interesting visit to Newcastle University, where I visited a number of centres including the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology, gave a talk about BBSRC strategy and also gave a scientific talk. I then returned south for a meeting by videoconference of the ‘Members’ (part of the new governance arrangements) of the John Innes Centre. [...]