Supplementary memorandum from the Department
for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS)
1. IS UK MARINE
OCEANS 2025 RECEIVING
NERC is satisfied that marine science receives
an appropriate proportion of the funding provided to NERC to administer
for environmental science. There are always more excellent research
applications made to NERC (and other Research Councils) than can
be fundedthis applies equally in marine scienceand
thus NERC turns down proposals for projects rated alpha 4 in many
areas of science.
The Oceans 2025 programme is one of a number
of NERC's activities addressing marine science. NERC Council's
decision was that Oceans 2025 funding at the desired level is
guaranteed only until March 2009, and that the future funding
level would be set after the outcome of CSR2007 for NERC is known.
NERC would expect to fund Oceans 2025 beyond 2009, but the level
of funding will be dependent on the settlement, which has not
yet been announced. It is the responsibility of the individual
Research Council (in this case NERC) to allocate appropriate funding
to its research programmes.
2. HOW IS
DIUS WORKING WITH
Defra provided input into the UK's response
to the maritime strategy green paper, on which the Department
for Transport lead. We see the resulting maritime policy as an
opportunity to promote more joined up approaches across the Community's
institutions, including in relation to marine science and research,
where, for example, existing structures can be used to promote
Marine science is a cross cutting issue in the
Seventh Framework Programme with marine resources covered in Theme
2 (Food, Agriculture and Fisheries and Biotechnology) of the Co-operation
Specific Programme and pressures on the marine system and the
management of marine environments covered in Theme 6 (Environment,
including climate change). The UK works with the Commission through
the programme committees for these themes and is represented by
Defra, FSA and BBSRC in Theme 2 and Defra and NERC in Theme 6.
3. WHAT STEPS
DIUS encourages knowledge transfer through the
Higher Education Innovation Fund. This provides funding that allows
every (English) University to increase its capacity for knowledge
transfer. Particular areas are not specified; rather the HEIF
operates at a strategic level, allowing universities flexibility
to increase knowledge transfer according to their strengths.
The Public Sector Research Exploitation fund
provides support for the commercialisation of research carried
out in public sector bodies including Research Council Institutes,
Government Laboratories, NHS hospitals and major museums and art
galleries. Funding is awarded on the basis of a competition which
is open to all Public Sector Research Establishments. In the last
round of the competition (worth a total of £25 million) organisations
which received funding included the Sea Mammal Research Unit and
a consortium of institutes lead by the Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
The Technology Strategy Board is funding a range
of research looking at future commercial potential some of which
as has a marine context. In particular, investigating marine micro
organisms as a source of novel enzymes for biocatalysis and supporting
research into wave and tidal energy. The aim of these projects
is to support collaboration between business and academia to create
future products and services.
NERC, along with other Research Councils, is
placing increasing emphasis on ensuring that the research it funds
benefits society and the economy. It has a knowledge transfer
(KT) strategy and its activities cover liaison with industry and
policy makers, training to encourage scientists to engage in knowledge
exchange, and support for the commercialisation of intellectual
property arising from NERC-funded research.
Research proposals submitted to NERC are judged
on scientific excellence, but even responsive-mode applicants
will in future need to include a KT plan, showing how they would
engage with potential users of the research outputs. All NERC
directed research programmes include and implement a KT plan,
and their programme management committees often include users.
NERC's knowledge-transfer funding schemes are available to the
marine-science community. NERC invests in developing marine technology
where needed for its research, such as AutoSub. NERC's Research
and Collaborative Centres, including the Marine Centres, have
active KT programmes, and many have staff specifically allocated
to KT activities. In preparing the Oceans 2025 proposal, consultation
with stakeholders helped to identify opportunities for knowledge
transfer, both policy- and technology-related, and Oceans 2025
is currently developing an overarching KT strategy.
The EPSRC Marine energy SUPERGEN project has
nine industrial partners. Industrial involvement is encouraged
in EPSRC responsive mode grants but is not a requirement. 26 of
the 53 marine technology research projects it supports have industrial
collaboration and include 68 separate companies plus other, not
for profit, organizations.
4. WHAT REPRESENTATIONS
MORE UK VESSELS
THE UK POOL
I have not received any representations on the
adequacy of the UK's research fleet.
The UK is already pooling resources with other
European countries through a highly efficient bartering scheme
for ocean-going vessels that has been actively grown in recent
years. NERC now has seven barter partners: Germany, France, Norway,
the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and the USA. The UK could not
participate in the scheme if it did not have its own ships. NERC
currently barters about 200d per annum on average. Further information
on NERC's bartering arrangements was provided in its memorandum
to the Committee.
NERC/BGS leads the European contribution to
the Integrated Ocean Drilling Programme by managing scientific
operations. The Japanese and the Americans each have their own
research vessels for the programme, but the Europeans use the
expertise of NERC/BGS to charter "mission specific platforms"
from industry, international research organisations, etc, so that
research is not restricted to specific vessels, as exemplified
by an expedition of ice breakers chartered to mount a drilling
expedition close to the North Poleadapting an ice breaker
to a drilling facility.
5. WHAT INVOLVEMENT
FORMER OSI/DTI HAVE
Following the review of the Foresight programme
in 2001, the sector-based panels were all disbanded. The programme
moved away from this structure, and now operates a highly successful
project structure, based around major areas of public policy,
such as flooding, infectious diseases, and obesity. The Panel's
work at this stage was in a private capacity and did not align
with revised Foresight policy and objectives. Foresight had some
discussions with the Marine Panel after its funding was terminated,
on whether a new Foresight project in their area would be possible.
However, their proposals did not receive support from stakeholders
within Governmentan essential feature in project selectionand
therefore the Marine Panel's proposals could not be taken forward.
6. WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY
The prime responsibility must rest with employers
who are able to make representations through the Sector Skills
Councils. Depending on whether the skill shortage is assessed
as having a demand side or a supply side cause, action can be
taken to try to address it at an appropriate level.
The Science and Innovation Investment Framework
2004-14 set out a long-term strategy to secure and sustain a supply
of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians to
support the science base. The March 2006 Next Steps document sets
out further commitments. Progress against these commitments is
reported in the latest Science and Innovation Investment Framework
DIUS is working closely with DCSF, who lead on the school science
commitments in Next Steps, in ensuring these are delivered. Improving
the pipeline flow of scientists and attractiveness of science
as a career should be a combined effort by Government, Higher
Educational Institutions, National Academies, Business, and other
Research Councils monitor the research capacity
and leadership of the science and engineering areas within their
respective remits. (Research Councils are not responsible for
NERC's new strategy recognises that the skills
base (in general) is an area requiring action. It has identified
mathematical modelling, physical oceanography, deep-sea biology
and taxonomy as areas of marine science subject to gaps in the
skills base. NERC funds research studentships in all areas of
marine scienceover a thousand studentship grants have been
awarded in the past six years. NERC's Research and Collaborative
Centres, including the Marine Centres, have close relationships
with universities, some having collaborative status or being at
least co-locatedhelping to encourage postgraduate students
to work in the marine sciences. The Strategic Oceans Funding Initiative
part of Oceans 2025 includes studentship funding to help develop
the next generation of marine scientists.
EPSRC monitors research capacity in engineering
generally, of which marine engineering is a subset. EPSRC monitors
the health of the engineering discipline and engages in dialogue
with employers about their requirements for engineers trained
to a postgraduate level.
7. WHAT RESEARCH
The Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) led an
EC Framework Programme 6 project "COST-IMPACT" which
aimed, inter alia, to estimate the economic cost/benefit
of fishing relative to the "value", economic and otherwise,
of the environment. One of the activities involved extensive social-science
analysis of stakeholders' views of the value of the environment,
The level of public sponsorship for NGOs in
the marine area shows concern for charismatic species, such as
the albatross, whales and dolphins, and suggests that there is
considerable awareness of the importance of the health of the
NERC's Research and Collaborative Centres support
a range of awareness-raising activities.
List of occasions within the past five years
on which the IACMST has reported on its activities to the GCSA/OSI,
including annual reporting arrangements and special reports.
In April 2003, Defra took over responsibility
for IACMST. The conditions for the new arrangement included that
IACMST have "Access to the CSA, CSAC, and OST where necessary",
and that "OST to remain a member of IACMST".
Since the transfer, IACMST has not formally
reported to the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser (GCSA),
Chief Scientific Advisers Committee (CSAC), or the Government
Office for Science (GO-Science) and/or Science and Innovation
Group (which together previously formed OSI).
GO-Science has retained membership of IACMST,
and receives circulated papers.
73 http://www.berr.gov.uk/science/science-funding/framework/page9306.html Back
Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology: Thirty-third
Plenary Meeting held on Thursday 9 January 2003 from 11.30 am
in the Council Room, Church House, Westminster, London. Back