There is only one way to start this week’s blog and that is by thanking everyone involved in putting on the Great British Bioscience Festival in Bethnal Green, East London – as one happy visitor put it "This Bio-science fair ROCKS". The enthusiasm of the scientists running the exhibits, the commitment of the staff involved from BBSRC and the sheer professionalism of it all was wonderful. From swabbing a very life-like chicken’s bottom for bird flu to learning about how bacteria glow in the dark, playing the Camelina Caper and the ‘Beating Badger TB’ interactive games, the standard of the displays was amazing and they were truly geared for all ages. We had over 6,700 visitors in 3 days!! Hopefully we have also convinced adults and children of the importance and wonders of bioscience – check out #GBbioscifest on Twitter to see more. Especially thanks to Patrick Middleton, Becky Kerby and Debbie Shaw from our External Relations team who really went above and beyond to ensure success. [...]
Tag: industrial biotechnology
Prof Jackie Hunter is away during early January so her regular blog is hosting guest posts from other BBSRC staff during the next fortnight. This week’s guest author is Dr Celia Caulcott, BBSRC’s Executive Director for Innovation and Skills and executive lead for industrial biotechnology and bioenergy.
I spent a few days in Cumbria over the holiday period, which is remarkably relevant to many aspects of BBSRC. One of the major industries there is food and farming, not least hill farming. All highly relevant to the Oxford Farming Conference at which the Secretary of State for Defra emphasised as one of the three priorities for the Department going forward is the challenge of growing the rural economy (PDF). Another focus he pointed to is that of our national security in relation to plant and animal disease: a major area of BBSRC investment is in research in these areas and in critical infrastructure such as the new high containment labs being constructed at Pirbright. The Agritech Catalyst, announced recently, will be an important route to supporting research in this area. [...]
While I have some important external meetings this coming week, including one with Government Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport, this will be my last blog (of more than 200) as BBSRC Chief Executive, so it will include some material of a valedictory nature.
The first major external meeting of last week was of our Research Advisory Panel; this is a most important forum where we bring together the Chairs of Strategy Panels and of the Research Committees who are responsible for Delivery, plus those Council members who are members of the Strategic LoLa Committee. As well as a look at the overall portfolio, we scrutinised progress reports on each of the many Institute Strategic Programme Grants and National Capability Grants. All told, these various activities constitute a large and impressive funding portfolio, albeit (as I have remarked before in the context of a Zipf distribution) one that is comparatively thinly spread among individual investigators. [...]
To ensure that BBSRC Science remains at the frontier of international competitiveness, I arrange occasional visits abroad, approximately annually, to check this out on the ground (one such was the Big Data mission to the USA). Given the strategic importance to our portfolio of Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, and the pre-eminence of these countries in fermentations and industrial biotechnology, last week I led a small mission to look at industrial biotechnology in Korea and Japan. Visits in Seoul included meetings with leaders from the Biologics division of Hanwha Chemical, President Kil-Choo Moon and colleagues from the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST), Drs Jong-Hyun Rhie and Tae Hee Kim of the National Research Foundation of Korea, a variety of colleagues from Seoul National University, and – moving more to the translational end – the Korea Institute for Advancement of Technology, the Korean Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Korea Drug Development Fund. It was also interesting to note that Samsung is investing heavily in developing a Well Aging Research Centre as part of its Advanced Institute of Technology. [...]
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. [...]