5 Involvement of other organisations |
97. There are many different routes through which
researchers can apply for funding for international collaborations,
and in addition to Research Council or government schemes, there
are programmes run by organisations such as the British Council,
the Royal Society, the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, and
the Royal Academy of Engineering. The importance of the work undertaken
by the British Council and the Royal Society, in particular, in
funding international research is recognised by their participation
98. The British Council is a Non-Departmental Public
Body sponsored by the FCO. It runs science programmes in 70 countries
around the world, with an annual expenditure of £8 million.
It supports a number of awards schemes as outlined in Table 5.
Table 5: British Council Activities (2006)
||Approx annual Funding
|International Networking for Young Scientists
||Bilateral and multilateral N+N seminars and workshops for the exchange of information, knowledge and ideas between early stage researchers and formation of collaborative links. Global coverage delivered by BC with matched funding from national partners.
||£ 250 k |
||Bilateral, co-financed programmes promoting links and contacts between higher education research institutions and laboratories in the UK and Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Poland, Turkey, Cuba, Greece, India, and Slovenia. Delivered by BC with matched funding from national governments.
|Researcher Exchange Programme
||Individual awards providing money for travel and subsistence to enable early stage researchers to spend 2 week - 3 month periods in foreign laboratories (inward to and outward from UK) in order to make international connections. Global coverage.
|Network UK||Personal assistance and advice provided to EU/Global researchers planning to move to the UK for a period of work. It comprises a mobility portal and helpdesk at the national level supported by 12 mobility centres located around the UK, aimed at removing the barriers to mobility. Co-financed by EC (under FP6) and OSI, and delivered by BC.
||£ 91 k|
Source: GSIF, Strategy for international engagement
in research and development, p 56-57
99. The British Council also runs resources such
as the Support for International Science, Technology and Engineering
Research (SISTER) programme, which is a funding route map for
UK researchers, postgraduates and international students seeking
funding for international collaboration in science and technology.
It was created for British Council Science, the OSI, the Royal
Society, and UK Trade and Investment.
100. The British Council and the Research Councils
focus on different outcomes. Dr Lloyd Anderson from the British
Council explained to us that "the Research Councils are saying
what can international relations do for the UK research base,
whereas I would say that philosophy behind the British Council
is what can the UK research base do for international relations,
it is the other way round."
This different outlook means that direct overlap between British
Council and Research Council schemes is unlikely, although it
does not prevent them from working together. The British Council
indicated that it would welcome more interaction with the Research
Councils. It said that the Research Councils have "always
been supportive of British Council initiatives, but there have
been no major joint activities. This may reflect an earlier 'wealth
creation in UK' stance, or the different audience segments
that the Research Councils and British Council individually seek
In relation to Network UK, the British Council states that "The
Research Councils have chosen not to undertake active promotion,
or to utilise the mobility portal; actions that have been left
to the HE sector."
101. The Royal Society supports a number of schemes
to promote international collaboration and partnership, including
international joint projects, short visits to and from the UK,
fellowships to the UK from Asia, fellowships to the UK from the
USA, and conference grants. It is also responsible for running
networking schemes for the OSI (now DIUS).
Table 6: Royal Society International Activities (2006)
||Approx annual funding
|Conference grants||Provide assistance to UK scientists attending conferences in any overseas country. Global coverage.
|Short visits grants
||Available for scientists to undertake visits (either by UK scientists overseas, or by overseas scientists to the UK) for periods of between one week and three months; these are intended to assist in initiating one-to-one collaboration and exploring opportunities. Funding is for travel and subsistence, and in some instances costs are shared with partner organisations "in-country". Global coverage.
|Joint projects||Provide mobility grants for bi-lateral research projects between a UK research group. Funds available cover the costs of a series of visits between the two groups over a period of two to three years. Covers Europe, South America, South East Asia, China, India, and parts of Africa and Latin America.
|Incoming fellowships for postdoctoral scientists
||The Society also offers incoming fellowships for postdoctoral scientists undertaking a research project with a named host in a UK research organisation. Covers India, China, and South East Asia for 6-12 months and US and Canada for 12 to 36 months.
|ERA COREACH ERANET on European research collaboration with China
||This network is intended to create coherence and synergy in Europe's S&T relations with China. Covers Netherlands, France, Germany, Poland, Austria, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Hungary. Delivered by RS (and British Academy) on behalf.
(£250 k over 5 years)
|International Science and Science Policy Organisations
||Collaboration with the international scientific community through support of the International Council for Science (ICSU), Inter Academy Panel and Council (IAP/IAC), International Scientific Unions, the International Seismological Centre, European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), European Science Exchange Programme (ESEP) and Academia Europaea. Global coverage delivered by RS for UK.
||£ 750 k|
Source: GSIF, Strategy for international engagement
in research and development, p 55
102. The Royal Society receives its funding from
three sources: Parliamentary grant in aid from OSI (now DIUS),
private foundations/individuals/corporate organisations, and its
endowment. Dr Bernie Jones explained to us that "the biggest
chunk is the Parliamentary grant in aid, the money that we receive
from OSI and then hand out to fund excellent UK scientists and
international scientific collaborations."
103. The Royal Society says that it brings "credibility
and experience" to running grant schemes.
We have been told by the Deafness, Cognition and Language Research
Centre at University College London that small schemes such as
those run by the Royal Society are "unbureaucratic and seen
to work efficiently".
The University of Sheffield says that the work of the Royal Society
and other trusts is "much more well known" than that
of the Research Councils in facilitating international research.
Co-ordination between organisations
104. We are not convinced that there is sufficient
co-ordination between the organisations working to fund international
research or that a good working relationship exists between them.
The Royal Society has been very critical of the Research Councils
(paragraph 20), whilst RCUK's written submission does not mention
the work of the Royal Society or British Council.
Co-ordination and communication is essential in order to avoid
overlap between similar schemes, particularly between the Royal
Society and the Research Councils. Dr Jones from the Royal Society
told us that the potential for overlap was "something that
we are very conscious of."
Professor Ian Diamond, Chair of RCUK, told us that "we do
not want to end up doing things in duplication".
Both witnesses said that actions were being taken in order to
improve co-ordination. Professor Diamond said that Dr Ian Cox,
Executive Secretary of the Royal Society, had been invited to
RCUK to talk about respective forward strategies and how they
align. Dr Jones
said that that there was informal and formal contact at a number
of different levels between the organisations. He noted that in
view of the increasing international initiatives by the Royal
Academy of Engineering, he was intending to set up a regular meeting
between the international heads of the various academies in the
believe that relations between the Research Councils, the Royal
Society, British Council and others could be improved further.
We recommend that the RCUK international team take steps to improve
co-ordination and communication with the Royal Society, British
Council and others, seeking advice and adopting models of best
practice where appropriate.
105. As highlighted by the Royal Society, there is
no formal mechanism to ensure that there is no overlap between
the schemes offered by the Research Councils, Learned Societies
and other bodies.
Furthermore, it is not clear which organisation should take responsibility
for promoting co-ordination. We believe that DIUS, the source
of funding for several of these bodies, would be best placed to
encourage organisations to co-ordinate their schemes to ensure
minimal overlap and duplication. Its activities would complement
those of GSIF, which focuses primarily upon co-ordinating cross-Government
activities. We recommend
that the Science and Innovation Group within DIUS become a hub
for co-ordinating the international activities and policies of
the Research Councils, Learned Societies, charities and others.
We recommend that DIUS work with relevant organisations using
resources such as the British Council Support for International
Science, Technology and Engineering Research portal to ensure
that there is minimal overlap between schemes encouraging the
development of international links.
185 Ev 160 Back
Q 180 Back
Ev 159 Back
Ev 160 Back
Ev 61 Back
Q 208 Back
Ev 61 Back
Ev 44 Back
Ev 59 Back
Ev 89 Back
Q 201 Back
Q 37 Back
Q 37 Back
Q 205 Back
As above. Back