Tag: institutes

  • Launching a new bioscience spin out and a new Industrial Strategy for the UK

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    On the day that our Prime Minister unveiled a new Industrial Strategy, I was at Norwich Research Park officially launching biotech spin out company, Leaf Systems with the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation, Jo Johnson.

    The new company, based on over 10 years of John Innes Centre research, uses a novel system to speedily and efficiently produce valuable proteins from plants for use in new diagnostics and vaccines. This new approach will enable a more rapid response to emerging pandemics. […]

  • Out and about around the UK (or 10 days in the life of…)

    Uncategorized | Melanie Welham

    People often ask me what my role as CE involves and how it is different to being an academic researcher. A good insight comes from the various activities I was involved with in the couple of weeks before my recent holiday. These saw me travelling the length and breadth of the UK to engage with different groups of BBSRC stakeholders – while physically tiring it has been an intellectually stimulating time.


  • Development and growth at the Institutes

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    BBSRC provides strategic funding to eight institutes that have long-term research programmes and national capabilities that underpin important sectors of the UK economy – including agriculture, food and drink and pharmaceuticals. Last week I had a very productive visit to one of the institutes – IBERS which is part of Aberystwyth University. As well as getting a review of the Institute Strategic Programmes that we fund there, I also spoke to a number of researchers in areas as diverse as ruminant microbiota and biofuels. I hadn’t realised that the Institute was so heavily involved in teaching undergraduates as well as postgraduates and was pleased to see how successfully integrated it has become with the University. I was extremely impressed with the National Plant Phenomics Centre and its capacity for automated imaging and measurement of a range of different plant sizes. The ability to measure both below and above ground phenotypes is impressive. The Institute is also home to the Beacon Biorefining Centre of Excellence which is a partnership between Aberystwyth, Bangor and Swansea Universities. […]

  • The benefits of a diverse approach

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    This week has been both busy and interesting with my first Council meeting as Chief Executive. At the start of the week I had the pleasure of meeting the finalists in the Biotechnology and Environmental Young Entrepreneur Scheme and hearing some of them give their pitches. The questioning by the panels was really tough and certainly equal to, or greater than, any grilling by venture capital firms in the real world.

    I was also really encouraged by the diversity of the teams, which represents progress in comparison to the statistics reported on diversity within universities published by HESA earlier in the year. Approximately 20% of all professors are female, across all disciplines, although they make up over 40% of all academic staff and with the figures also showing less diversity in terms of ethnicity. I believe the issue of diversity is of great importance; most recently this meant giving a talk to the BBSRC Human Resources (HR) Network, made up of HR professionals from a number of BBSRC strategically funded institutes, on the importance of diversity. This opportunity also allowed me to find out what the institutes were doing to progress Athena SWAN accreditation. […]

  • “Science isn’t finished until it is communicated”

    Uncategorized | Jackie Hunter

    Recently I came across an interesting quote from Sir Mark Walport, the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser. It was “science isn’t finished until it is communicated” delivered as part of a speech on climate change at a meeting in Cambridge. As scientists, we do have a duty to not only report our research to other scientists (to funders, the scientific community) but also to communicate relevant scientific findings to both the public and policy makers. How the information is conveyed will need to be contextualised in a way that is meaningful to the intended audience and this can sometimes be difficult. For example, my family frequently tell me that I go into too much detail and overcomplicate things when I am trying to explain some interesting science to them (and they are an engineer and an economist!). An informed society will be able to make more considered choices and be more readily able to engage in future public debates about science and its application and to take full advantage of what scientific advances are making possible. […]