Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Submission from the Department of Trade and Industry


  1.  Alan Johnson and Brian Bender commissioned a review in autumn 2005 to examine the organisational and working methods of the DTI's activities on science, innovation and business relations and support. The aims of this review were to help the Department achieve effective integration and ensure that its strategic focus appropriately addresses the enterprise, innovation and knowledge economy agenda, to meet the challenge of globalisation.

  2.  Following the review, Alan Johnson and Brian Bender have announced that the Department will create a new Office of Science and Innovation by merging its Innovation Group into the Office of Science and Technology. The new Science and Innovation Group within the Office of Science and Innovation will have the twin purpose of: investing to develop further the excellence of the UK's research base; and promoting technological and other business innovation.

  3.  Working together, the Office of Science and Technology (OST) and Innovation Group have had success so far in delivering the 10-year Science and Innovation Investment Framework and putting innovation at the heart of the Government's agenda. The creation of the new Office of Science and Innovation will build on all these achievements and on the strong brand of the OST. As stated in the consultation document on Science and Innovation published with the Budget on 22 March, the Office of Science and Innovation provides an opportunity to consider how policies addressing the science "push" and innovation "pull" can be brought together more effectively. It will also allow more coherent communication of the Department's work.

Changes in lines of responsibility

  4.  Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Advisor, will be head of the Office of Science and Innovation. Sir Keith O'Nions, as the Director-General of the Science and Innovation Group, will be responsible for the work of the Research Councils and for the areas currently covered by Innovation Group. Sir Keith O'Nions will take on the role of DTI's Chief Scientific Adviser formerly held by the DG for Innovation.

  5.  The Department is recruiting by open competition a new Director of Innovation who will build on the excellent work done by the Innovation Group and who will have strong business and technical credentials. He/she will report to the DG Science and Innovation.

  6.  The new Office of Science and Innovation will come into effect on 3 April.

  7.  We would like to record and recognise the substantial achievements of the Innovation Group, under the leadership of David Hughes, over the past four years. These achievements include:

    (i)  establishing the Technology Strategy and Technology Strategy Board, whereby we are now getting record participation and awareness of the technology programme and huge support across sectors in the business community;

    (ii)  achieving international recognition for the work of the Innovation Group in developing UK innovation policies;

    (iii)  highlighting the specific needs of the service sector and the importance of design in innovation thinking;

    (iv)  raising the importance of public procurement in stimulating innovation and reinvigorating the SBRI scheme, working with the construction industry and other Government Departments such as the Department of Health; and

    (v)  significant influence on DfES thinking on skills and the emphasis on demand side/employer led skills development in the workplace; and

    (vi)  as part of the Innovation Group, the Patent Office is one of the most open and efficient in the world and proactively worked on promoting IPR for SMEs and schools. The development of the model contracts for IPR collaboration is ground breaking and widely acclaimed in business and academe.

Implications for Budgets and Staff Numbers

  8.  In implementing these changes, we will ensure that decisions on resource allocation to the Research Councils continue to be based on excellence in research. We will also safeguard and maintain the ring-fencing of the Science Budget, including the funding for the Research Councils.

  9.  The above changes will reduce by one the number of Directors-General in this part of the Department. More broadly, they are driven by the desire to organise DTI more effectively, rather than seek savings. In implementing the changes, however, we will review whether any efficiencies are possible as a result of this restructuring.

March 2006

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