Submission from the Department for Innovation,
Universities and Skills
The UK's economic success over the last ten
years is based to a substantial degree on its successful use of
science, engineering and innovation, whether in pharmaceuticals,
aerospace and defence, communications, financial services or in
a wide range of innovative small businesses. In addition the ten
year framework for investment in science and innovation and succeeding
policy documents have formed a strong basis for continued and
increased investment in the UK's research base and in innovation,
and for improving the use of science and engineering in Government.
These are policies for the long term and are being
maintained through the current economic challenges so that the
UK is well placed to benefit from the upturn when it comes. In
addition the National Economic Council is actively seeking ways
of using the UK's excellence in science and engineering to bring
forward investment in industries and activities which will both
reduce the depth of the downturn and put us in a stronger long
This memorandum is structured to reflect the two
broad related themes identified by the Committee:
The contribution of science and engineering
to Government policy, and
Government policy on science and
These themes overlap and interact, so some of
the issues discussed in the memorandum relate to both themes.
1.1 Cabinet sub-Committee on Science and Innovation
The importance placed on the use of science
and engineering in policy-making was made clear by the Prime Minister's
recent creation of a Cabinet sub-Committee on Science and Innovation
(ED(SI)). Through his chairmanship of this Committee, the Science
Minister, Lord Drayson will drive implementation of science and
innovation policy, including ensuring that science and engineering
make a central contribution to policy development. The Committee
is well placed to deliver cross-cutting action, working as it
does across departmental boundaries so that linkages across government
on policy development and delivery are better identified and exploited.
It will also serve as a forum where good practice can be shared
and poor performance robustly challenged.
The Committee meets monthly and addresses issues
such as innovation and procurement, R&D strategies, science
and society, investing in science and innovation, STEM skills,
and the management and use of science by departments. The Chair
reports quarterly on progress to the Prime Minister.
2. THE CONTRIBUTION
Under the leadership of Government Chief Scientific
Adviser (GCSA) Professor John Beddington, Chief Scientific Advisers
(CSAs) from the lead science-using departments meet regularly
to discuss strategy, current issues and priorities with each other
and with Research Council and Technology Strategy Board CEOs.
In addition the GCSA meets regularly with the other Heads of
Analysis (statistics, operational research, economics and social
research) in Government. A key objective is to identify opportunities
for synergy, reinforcement, and improved delivery paths across
the science and other evidence base and policy. This is more
important than ever in the current economic climate.
Policy makers in Government are trained actively
to seek and use analytical evidence, including that derived from
science and engineering. This expectation has been formalised
in the Professional Skills for Government (PSG) core skill of
"Analysis and Use of Evidence" for all civil servants.
Departments and Agencies with substantial R&D
spend have in place science and innovation strategies that place
the role of science and engineering more clearly within the wider
policy and resource context.
A Government Social Research Unit study
in 2007 described changes over time of the contribution that
analysis (including science and engineering) generated with or
commissioned by departments makes to government policy. The GSRU
painted a generally positive picture but with some reservations.
For example, in some cases, policy-makers did not acknowledge
the importance of the evidence base, giving as their reason that
it failed to provide unambiguous conclusions. In response, the
Government Office for Science has commissioned a project with
the Risk and Regulatory Advisory Council to develop guidance for
civil servants on risk, with a particular focus on risk communication
and a better understanding of the opportunities and limitations
of scientific and engineering evidence.
During 2008, in response to feedback from departments,
there has been a thorough independent review of Science Reviews,
peer reviewed by the Heads of Analysis Group and the Chief Scientific
Advisers Committee. This has concluded that the time is right
to adopt a two-tier system of evaluation of the use by departments
of scientific and engineering evidence. These reviews will be
co-owned by the GCSA and the relevant Permanent Secretary. The
expectation is that most reviews will be "lighter touch",
unless the department requests or agrees to an in-depth evaluation
of a particular area of concern. The new approach will be faster
and more focused on departmental business objectives, whilst also
having the flexibility to respond to issues that cross departmental
boundaries and engage more than one analytical discipline. The
new approach will be piloted early in 2009.
The Government's strategy for science in Government,
due for publication in the first part of 2009, will further reinforce
the aim of excellent policy-making supported by a more sophisticated
understanding of science and engineering advice throughout Government.
In recent years the GCSA and GO-Science have
led the way in strengthening the place of science and engineering
inside departments. All major science-using departments have
accepted the case for appointing their own CSAs. Professor Beddington
is working closely with the community of CSAs to build a cross-government
approach to identifying and taking forward research priorities
which address major policy challenges such as understanding and
responding to the complex inter-relationships between climate
change, energy, water, food, and migration.
2.1 Council for Science and Technology
The Council for Science and Technology (CST)
is the Prime Minister's top-level independent advisory body on
strategic science and technology policy issues, and engages with
all Government departments as appropriate to the issue under consideration.
The 17 members of the Council are respected senior figures
drawn from across science, engineering and technology (including
social research and economics). The CST has made valuable contributions
across a wide range of key policy challenges that include its
reports, Policy through Dialogue (March 2005), Better
use of personal information: opportunities and risks (November
2005), Nanotechnologies Policy Review (March 2007), Strategic
Decision Making for Technology Policy Making (November 2007)
and most recently How Academia and Government can Work Together
(October 2008). The Council also engages with Ministers and
senior officials in a more informal way and on shorter timescales
whenever appropriate or helpful. For example last month the Council
met the Prime Minister and advised him informally on making strategic
technology choices and addressing the challenges in UK venture
capital funding in the context of the economic downturn.
2.2 The Chief Scientific Advisers Committee
and Core Issues Group
The Chief Scientific Advisers Committee (CSAC) includes
all departmental CSAs as well as the HSE Chief Scientist, the
joint head of the Government Economic Service, a Treasury representative,
CSAs to the Devolved Administrations and the DIUS DG Science and
Research. It meets quarterly and addresses issues of common interest.
For example its last meeting addressed the RCEP report on novel
materials, preparing for the next spending review, horizon scanning,
monitoring and evaluation of scientific advisory committees, the
science review programme, the forthcoming strategy for science
in Government, the IUSS Committee's report on biosecurity and
the Government's response, raising the profile of CSAs, GO-Science
web pages and PSRE sustainability.
The CSAC Core Issues Group (CIG) includes a sub-group
of CSAs from the principal science-using departments as well as
the CSA to the Scottish Government. It meets every six weeks and
form sub-groups to address current issues. At present it has sub-groups
on counter-terrorism and on climate change and food security.
It meets at least twice a year with the Chief Executives of the
Research Councils and Technology Strategy Board. It has agreed
with the Chief Executives to work together on cross-cutting strategic
priorities in preparing for the next Spending Review.
2.3 Global Science and Innovation Forum
The Global Science and Innovation Forum, which
is chaired by the GCSA, includes eight government departments,
UK Trade and Investment, RCUK, the TSB, the Royal Society, the
Royal Academy of Engineering, the British Council and the Academy
of Medical Sciences. It developed the UK's global science and
innovation strategy and co-ordinates its implementation. At its
next meeting the Forum will discuss the implications of the new
US administration and review its forward role and work programme.
2.4 Building the Community of Interest in
Science and Engineering
There are estimated to be more than 18,000 civil
servants with science and engineering backgrounds. These form
a spectrum between those who work on science and/or engineering
day to day (some in a laboratory context) and those who work in
other Civil Service professions such as policy delivery or operational
As Head of Science and Engineering Profession (HoSEP)
in Government, Professor Beddington is co-ordinating and supporting
the work of departmental HoSEPs to champion and support the profession.
The current work programme includes developing a PSG competency
framework for scientists and engineers across all grades, building
a 'Community of Interest', and hosting the first annual conference
for the Community of Interest in January 2009. The conference
will address how best to embed science and engineering advice
in policy. Part of the purpose of the Community is to encourage
scientists and engineers working on policy to bring their background
to bear more actively on their work and thence improve policy
formation and delivery.
2.5 Departmental Agencies and Non-Departmental
Many departmental agencies and non-departmental
public bodies are central to providing science and engineering
advice to departments. Examples include the Health Protection
Agency, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the
Veterinary Laboratory Agency. These are tasked and resourced under
arrangements with their parent departments, and relevant departmental
CSAs take a close interest in their performance and contribution
to policy making.
2.6 External Advice to Departments
Government draws on external evidence and thinking
in many ways including commissioning specific projects or reviews;
time limited expert panels; and through standing advisory committees.
Many departments also consult widely on their research programmes
and evidence strategies.
A key part of the picture are the more than 75 Scientific
Advisory Committees that bring together, as appropriate, deep
specialists, lay members, and a mix of analytical and other advisers
(eg legal and communication) from outside Government to address
specific scientific questions that confront policy makers. Some
departments also have an external Science Advisory Council that
meets periodically to feed expert advice and challenge into policy
at a strategic level. Their composition is determined by the
balance of policy needs identified by the departments involved.
2.6.1 Scientific Advisory Committees (SACs)
Most SACs exist to inform and challenge policy
makers in a specific area. Their conduct and management are governed
by the Code of Practice for SACs
(CoPSAC) that was revised in 2007 after public consultation
following observations made by the House of Commons Science and
Technology Committee. CoPSAC takes into account the Guidelines
on Scientific Analysis in Policy Making,
which addresses how government departments
should seek and apply scientific advice and evidence in the process
of policy making.
Advice from SACs covers a wide range of issues, including
helping strategic direction, horizon scanning, input to policy,
conducting peer reviews, supporting regulation, certification
and sharing knowledge. Depending on the needs of the parent department,
SACs frame their advice to take account of technical, social,
legal and stakeholder concerns. Wherever possible, SACs conduct
their business transparently, publishing their deliberations.
Since the new Code was launched, GO-Science has engaged with
SACs to help ensure spread of good practice in areas identified
by the SAC community itself. Most recently, this included a workshop
on the induction of SAC Chairs (December 2008) in response to
representations from existing Chairs that such guidance would
improve SAC performance.
There are many good practice examples of how
SA Committee advice can improve policy decisions. The Gene Therapy
Advisory Committee (GTAC), sponsored by the Department of Health
(DH), is a good example. GTAC is responsible for the ethical oversight
of proposals to conduct clinical trials involving gene or stem
cell therapies. Its advice often influences decisions made in
other countries. For example, its horizon scanning report on the
potential use of gene therapy in utero has been accepted
internationally and the advice presented means that no in utero
procedures have been performed in the UK or elsewhere in the world.
GTAC advice also led to a DH commitment in the 2003 Genetics
White Paper of £1 million to fund innovative gene therapy
research, which combined responsive and commissioned research,
and sought to enhance research capacity through genetics knowledge
parks and training.
2.6.2 Science Advisory Councils
An additional model for embedding science and
engineering alongside other specialist advisers is that of the
Science Advisory Council. Examples can be found in MoD, Home
Office, Defra, and Food Standards Agency. The underlying principle
of having a senior advisory body that maps onto the policy priorities
and remit of a whole department is a valuable one. Councils reflect
the needs of their parent departments and can encompass physical,
social and natural sciences, engineering, technology and economics.
They play a key role in supporting and challenging the departmental
CSA as well as the department more generally. GO-Science is working
with other government departments to explore whether more Science
Advisory Councils might usefully be created.
2.7 Other Engagement and Consultation
Part of the challenge in getting policy-makers to
improve their use of science and engineering is to increase awareness
and use of sources that fall outside their departments. Departmental
CSAs can help with this. This challenge has also been addressed
by the CST in its paper"How academia and government
can work together".
The report concluded that there was considerable scope for further
strengthening links between academia and government. Particular
areas for action by a range of parties (not just Government) included
building capacity, relationships and incentives.
The National Academies and Learned Societies are
an important source of authoritative, impartial advice, and are
often consulted by Government. In the case of the Academies this
advice is rooted in their Fellowshipswhich bring together
the UK's most eminent scientists, engineers and researchersand
ranges from responses to parliamentary committees and Government
consultations through to less formal, day-to-day interactions
with policy officials on a wide range of issues.
The Academies and Societies also undertake their
own independent policy studies. For example:
In September 2008, the British Academy
published Punching our Weight: the humanities and social sciences
in public policy making, prepared in concert with the Council
for Science and Technology's wider investigation into how interactions
between academics and public policy makers can be improved.
In October 2008, the Royal Society
launched a study looking at whether planetary scale geo-engineering
schemes could play a role in preventing the worst effects of climate
change. This is a particular focus for the Committee's continuing
inquiry into Engineering.
Foresight projects, led by GO-Science, are good
examples of work to inform policy which engage large numbers of
external scientists, analysts and engineerstypically hundreds
for each project, led by a small external expert group. These
projects review and synthesise relevant cutting edge science and
use it to undertake futures analysis relevant to policy makers.
A recent example was the Obesities Foresight project which had
a major impact on the Government's Obesity strategy published
in early 2008, and resulted in a much more evidence-based strategy
than would otherwise have been the case. The influence of Foresight
is also felt internationally: for example its project on the Detection
and Identification of Infectious Diseases has formed the basis
for co-ordinated action by the African Union and international
funding partners such as the Gates Foundation and Google. Stakeholder
panels for Foresight projects typically include business, charities,
regional or local bodies and NGOs, depending on the issue.
Public engagement is addressed in the last part
of this memorandum.
2.8 Maximising the Impact of the Research
Base on Policy Delivery and Improved Public Services
Research Councils have strong relationships
with a large number of government departments and public bodies.
Research Council funded research has had significant policy impacts,
ESRC's Centre for the Analysis of
Social Exclusion contributed to the development of evidence-based
policy for the Sure Start programme where Government currently
spends £1,000 million per year.
Research produced at the AHRC's Centre
for Research in Intellectual Property has played a crucial role
in underpinning new legislation in areas such as e-commerce, IT,
biotechnology and medical ethics.
Research Council funded research has led to
significant improvement in the delivery of public services, including:
Research Council discoveries have
led to better ways to treat Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases,
diabetes and stroke.
ESRC research led to a reform of
legal liability insurance for NHS hospitals which has, in turn,
improved patient safety. Offering discounts on insurance premiums
to hospitals with high standards of risk management led to lower
rates of MRSA infections.
Looking forward the impact of investment is
expected to be maximised:
All Research Councils have made the
commitment to deliver a step-change in their economic impact,
including impact on policy and delivery of public services, over
the Comprehensive Spending Review period.
Cross-council programmes are aimed
at addressing key public policy challenges. Living with Environmental
Change (LWEC) is a 10 year programme bringing together universities,
research institutions, local authorities, public agencies, government
departments and industry.
New Institutions, such as the Office for Strategic
Co-ordination of Health Research (OSCHR) and the Energy Technologies
Institute (ETI), will strengthen the links and speed up the process.
These developments are underpinned by the excellence of the research
base in the UK.
2.9 Science-based innovation to improve policy
The Innovation Nation
White Paper established a broad innovation agenda for Government
which has science and research at its heart but also acknowledges
the importance of the other types of innovation that go on in
the private and public sectors. A key theme was to use Government
procurement to increase the demand for innovative products and
servicesthis was also a theme of Lord Sainbury's Review
(The Race to the Top).
As a result of commitments in Innovation Nation, the Small
Business Research Initiative (SBRI) has been reformed and the
reformed version is being tested through pilots. Those pilots
encourage innovative procurement solutions that have engaged,
in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board, the MoD (maritime
and energy competitions) and the Department of Health (healthcare
associated infectionseg hand hygiene and pathogen detection).
Participation in the reformed SBRI will shortly be widened to
other departments. In addition, Government Departments have committed
to producing Innovation Procurement Plans which will include procurement
of research and technology demonstrators. Guidance on producing
these plans was published alongside the first Annual Innovation
Report in December 2008
The Technology Strategy Board catalyses bringing
public investment, including procurement, together with private
sector investment in areas of competitive advantage for UK technology
and innovation, which in most cases also address strategic or
policy challenges for the UK.
The Technology Strategy Board works closely
with business and regional and local bodies, as well as other
stakeholders, on its strategy.
2.10 A Department for Science
The Government's position on this proposal was
set out by John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities
and Skills, during his evidence session to the Committee on 29th
John Denham said: "I think the last thing you want to do
is to separate off the science and innovation bit
a separate bit of government with no purchase on the rest of the
DIUS performs the role of a Department for Science,
and has the added benefit of linking science and innovation with
skills and higher/further education. This gives it much more weight
in Government, for example in the National Economic Council, where
issues around human capital, knowledge and skills can be powerfully
2.11 The Government Office for Science
The Government Office for Science (GO-Science)
supports the GCSA in his roles of
Assuring and improving the quality
and use of scientific evidence and advice in government;
Leading the science and engineering
profession in the Civil Service;
Engaging other countries and international
organisations on science and technology-related issues to help
achieve UK objectives; and
Working to strengthen the interactions
between research communities and policy makers.
GO-Science is located within DIUS but is professionally
independent of it.
2.12 Scrutiny of Government Science and Engineering
Science and Engineering policy is subject to
scrutiny in many ways, for example by:
The National Academies and Learned
Parliament, through Select Committees
and other means.
Individual departments' management and use of
science and engineering are scrutinised within the context of
the ten year framework for science and innovation
both through regular self-assessment and through reviews by the
GCSA. Progress on innovation in departments is tracked through
the Annual Innovation Report.
3. Government Policy on Science and Engineering
The government supports the development of scientific
and engineering skills through the DIUS Science and Research budget
and through Higher Education Funding Councils. DIUS also promotes
wider understanding and confidence in science and engineering
though public engagement. The contribution that science and engineering
makes to innovation and economic exploitation is supplemented
by the important work of the Technology Strategy Board.
3.1 Dual Support System
Our world-leading universities are at the heart of
the UK's Research Base. Funding of university research works
through a "dual support" systemwhich is a combination
of institution level block funding from the Higher Education Funding
Bodies in the four countries of the UK, and competitive funding
through the Research Councils. This dual support system balances:
a stable (but not static) financial
foundation with competitive funding for specific projects;
the need for funders to promote specific
priorities with the freedom of universities to set their own agenda;
the rewards for discovering new knowledge
with those for working with users; rewards for future potential
with those for established performance.
The Prime Minister reaffirmed the Government's
commitment to the dual support system when he created the Department
for Innovation Universities and Skills, bringing together the
two arms of the dual support system under one Secretary of State.
This commitment continues.
The Government has significantly increased its
investment in the research base since 1997. By the end of the
current spending period, DIUS will be investing almost £6 billion
a year in research, including funding for universities, other
public sector research establishments and subscriptions to international
scientific organisations and facilities.
3.2 Does the Haldane Principle need updating?
The Haldane Principle is as relevant today as
everJohn Denham has restated his support for Haldane in
his speech at the Royal Academy of Engineering on 29th April 2008:
"For many years, the British government
has been guided by the Haldane principlethat detailed decisions
on how research money is spent are for the science community to
make through the research councils.
Our basis for funding research is also enshrined
in the Science and Technology Act of 1965, which gives the Secretary
of State power to direct the research councilsand, in practice,
respects the spirit of the Haldane principle.
In practice, of course, Haldane has been interpreted
to a greater or lesser extent over the years, not least when Ted
Heath transferred a quarter of research council funding to government
departmentsa move undone by Margaret Thatcher.
But in the 21st century, I think three fundamental
elements remain entirely valid.
That researchers are best placed
to determine detailed priorities.
That the government's role is to
set the over-arching strategy; and
That the research councils are 'guardians
of the independence of science'.
These should be the basis for Haldane today,
and over the decades to come, and I am happy to re-state them.
But recent debates have thrown up questions about
each of those principles. How researchers determine priorities?
How ministers set strategy, and how Research Councils play their
Given the strength of our research base, there
are always more proposals for top class research than the nation
can afford to fund. Decisions on which specific projects to fund
are rightly taken by the Research Councils, using peer review,
on behalf of the research community.
Ministers have an important role at a strategic
level. The UK's world class research base requires major strategic
and sustained investment to underpin it. For example, without
ministers' involvement, research would not have been supported
on a sustainable basis through full economic costing.
Major commitments like the UK Medical Research
and Innovation Centre in Camden cannot get off the ground without
active ministerial involvement across many Government Departments.
The same is true of the international science and innovation centres
being developed at Harwell and at Daresbury. Such commitments
could be seen as constraining or pre-empting other parts of the
research council programmes. But, in truth, if Britain is to be
a big player in big science, major, strategic and sustained investment
will always be needed.
2. Cross cutting responsibilities
Whilst the Government's role is to set the overarching
science and research strategy, the decisions on how research money
is spent are for the research community to make through the Research
Some have raised questions as to whether the
Research Councils are unduly constrained by their commitments
to the four cross-council programmeson lifelong health
and wellbeing, energy, living with environmental change, and global
threats to security. The country faces serious challenges and
it is only right for the nation to look to research to help to
solve them. All of these activities are taking place against
the backdrop of a growing budget.
A proper focus on these challenges is essential
and it must be right that Government is able to harness scientific
expertise in dealing with them. That also forms a key part of
our public case for research investment.
Hence the thematic programmes give a focus and
cross-disciplinary emphasis to part of the Research Councils'
budget. But, within these programmes, the majority of the work
funded will of course be in response mode and here too, the scope,
definition and allocation of funding is determined by the Research
3. Response to particular issues
Occasionally cases arise where Ministers do rightly
provide strategic direction, whilst still not becoming involved
in individual decisions. When the Government accepted the scientific
advice not to proceed with the fourth generation light sources,
it raised questions about the future development of Daresburyan
important science and innovation priority. Therefore Sir Tom
McKillop was asked to extend his work with the North West Development
Agency, to advise on its future development. DIUS worked with
STFC to ensure he has the scope to do so.
Similarly when it became clear how the STFC priorities
might affect two areas of physics, the Secretary of State initiated
a process that led to Professor Wakeham being asked to review
the health of the discipline. The Wakeham review has been published
and RCUK are working to implement the recommendations.
3.3 Regional Science Policy
In responding to the IUSS Select Committee on
the Science Budget Allocations (published 30 April 2008)
the Government made clear its position on regional science policy:
"The Government is committed to excellent
science and research, wherever this may be in the United Kingdom.
Research Councils will fund the very best research and facilities,
wherever they are located in this country. This fits entirely
with the Haldane Principle as set out at paragraph 3.2 above.
The Government does not plan to publish a white paper on regional
research policy. The ten year framework
provided a clear statement on Government policy in this area:
'Public funding of research at a national level,
through the Research Councils and funding bodies, is dedicated
to supporting excellent research, irrespective of its UK location.
The 'excellence principle' is fundamental to safeguarding the
international standing and scientific credibility of the UK science
and research and supporting an excellent, diverse, expanding and
dynamic science base, providing value for money for public investment.'
(9.52 p 146, Science and Innovation Investment Framework
This policy remains firmly in place."
John Denham in his speech at the Royal Academy
of Engineering on 29th April 2008 restated the Government's
commitment to Haldane and outlined why it is necessary for Ministers
to get involved in large strategic decisions:
3.4 Allocation of the Science Budget
Allocation of the science budget is underpinned
by a body of evidence including draft delivery plans from each
The DIUS Director General of Science and Research
(DGSR) has committed to wider consultation in the run up to the
next Spending Review. As a starting point, any consulting will
satisfy the following principles:
Consultation will be wide-ranging
and visible to ensure it is of high quality and has the confidence
of the community
Consultation will not be at the disciplinary
The DGSR has asked the following bodies to provide
The Royal Academy of Engineering
The Council for Science and Technology
The Chief Scientific Advisers Committee
The Confederation for British Industry
The process of consultation would involve the
Early in the process, the DGSR would
attend a Council meeting of each of the above bodies for a discussion
around the core issues.
Each of the above bodies would publicly
submit advice to the DGSR at two stages in the process:
Before the departmental submission
is sent to Treasury
After the departmental allocation
is received from Treasury but before the allocations to each Research
Council are made
At least twice during the process the DGSR will
chair a meeting of the Chairs/Presidents of each of the above
bodies to discuss the advice given in plenary.
3.4.1 Research Base Funders Forum
The Research Base Funders Forum was set up to
allow governmental and non-governmental funders of public good
research to consider the collective impact of their strategies
on the sustainability, health and outputs of the Research Base.
The Forum meets quarterly and is chaired by DIUS's Director General
Science and Research. Its members come from charities, industry,
Research Councils, Funding Councils, Regional Development Agencies,
the Higher Education sector and government departments.
3.5 Reporting Progress on the 10 Year
The Science and Innovation Investment Framework (SIIF)
Annual Report provides a regular update on Government progress
against the six main aspirations of the original document to :-
increase business investment and
engagement with the science base;
retain a strong supply of scientists,
technologists and engineers;
build understanding and improve public
attitudes to science;
ensure Government uses the highest
quality science and scientific advice.
As a framework document it provides scope for
change and development in policy to achieve the Government's long
term vision for UK science and innovation. For example, since
2004, the Government has published the Innovation White Paper
(Innovation Nation, March 2008) and last month published
the first Annual Innovation Report. The 2008 SIIF Annual
Report is available at www.dius.gov.uk/policy/annual_innovation_report.html
3.6 Supporting Public Engagement
Science and engineering improve the quality
of daily life, underpin prosperity and increase our readiness
to face the challenges of the future, both in the UK and globally.
The potential for science and engineering to contribute to good
policy making and sound government has never been greater. Our
ability to meet the challenges depends on our ability to handle
the science and engineering involved, by accessing sound scientific
advice, and by engaging with the public.
Having an engaged public means recognising that science
and engineering is not just a body of facts, but a discipline
with established methods of inquiry, peer-review and governance.
It means understanding that science and engineering is often about
measuring uncertainty and allowing ordinary people to better challenge
what they read about and understand different forms of scientific
The ten-year Science and Innovation Investment
Framework 2004-2014 and its subsequent annual reports highlighted
the importance that the Government attaches to greater public
confidence and improved engagement in scientific research and
its innovative applications. The ten-year framework set an objective
"demonstrate improvement against a variety
of measures, such as trends in public attitudes, public confidence,
media coverage, and acknowledgements and responsiveness to public
concerns by policy-makers and scientists".
In 2008 DIUS began a wide-ranging consultation
on a future UK strategy for the relationship between science and
society. The consultation covers topics around the themes of public
engagement in science, development of a representative STEM workforce
and greater confidence in both public and private sector use of
science. Following the consultation, which closed in October 2008,
a long-term strategy will be developed with an implementation
plan for publication in early 2009. The consultation document
suggested that there is a pressing need to do two things:
strengthen the level of high quality
engagement with the public on all major issues; and
increase the number of people who
study scientific subjects and work in research and scientific
The Government's public engagement with science
programme continues to provide a lead in encouraging open, constructive
and informed debate on the social, ethical, health, safety and
environmental implications of new and emerging science and technologies.
Key achievements in the last year on building engagement and improving
public attitudes to science, include:
the launch of a wide-ranging consultation
to develop a UK strategy for Science and Society;
publication of the results of the
third Public Attitudes to Science survey;
launch of the Sciencewise Expert
Resource Centre for Public Dialogue in Science and Technology
in response to the Council for Science and Technology's recommendation
to create a corporate memory of engagement practice;
increase in the National Science
and Engineering Week's media impact and development of an expanded
UK Young Scientists' and Engineers' Fair with a National Science
As part of a long term initiative to raise public
interest and commitment to science (involving a broad range of
stakeholders including Government, media and business) Lord Drayson
will launch the 'Science
So What?' PR campaign in January
2009. The aim of this campaign is to make a concerted effort (drawing
on good news stories from Research Councils, universities, academies
and other bodies) to increase the visibility of UK science and
the benefits it brings to society and the economy. A key part
of this approach is to involve Science champions that have broad
public appeal (from a popular rather than scientific base). The
campaign will integrate with other campaign activities during
2009 such as Darwin 2009, and National Science and Engineering
1 Analysis for Policy: Evidence-based policy in practice
Code of Practice for Scientific Advisory Committees, Government
Office for Science, December 2007. Available at
Guidelines on Scientific Analysis in Policy Making www.dius.gov.uk/policy/science_guidance/documents/file9767.pdf
How academia and government can work together
The Race to the Top
Annual Innovation Report 2008
Q195 (Dr Turner)-www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/c999-ii/c99902.htm
Science and innovation investment framework 2004-14
Science and Innovation Investment Framework 2004-2014, HM Treasury,