How academia and Government can work together
1. CST were asked by John Denham to investigate
ways in which the interaction between academia and policy makers
in Government could be improved.
2. The main message from CST was that academics
and policy makers have a healthy level of engagement and goodwill,
but more needed to be done to strengthen the relationship to ensure
informed, evidence-based policy making. These include world-class
exchange mechanisms between academics and policy-makers; strengthening
the roles of Departmental Chief Scientists; encouraging universities
to act more like consultancy organisations; and devising better
mechanisms to rate, value and reward the relationship.
Strategic decision making for technology policy
3. CST developed a priority-setting framework
for decision-making that could be used by Government to make better
choices between competing areas for technology funding.
4. Using this framework, CST identified six key
technology areas which extra resource from Government would deliver
returns to the UK within a five-year timeframe: Carbon Capture
and Storage, Disaster Mitigation Technologies, Low Carbon Distribution
Networks for Electricity Supply, Medical Devices, E-Health, and
Public Engagement: policy through dialogue
5. CST's Policy through dialogue
report encouraged government to do more to engage the public in
the development of science and technology-based policies, or risk
jeopardising the economic and social gains expected from the ten-year
investment framework for science and innovation.
6. The Council has responded to the 2008 Government
consultation on Science and Society and will shortly be publishing
a review it carried out in parallel on progress in embedding dialogue
and engagement mechanisms in Government departments. Although
the review identifies examples of good practicein areas
such as radioactive waste management and food standardsand
whilst the UK has a competitive advantage over most countries
in public dialogue, more is needed in terms of Government using
best practice in dialogue across departments. There is a need
to adopt an explicit framework for public dialogue which is responsive
to different circumstances, and to prioritise areas for dialogue,
particularly on longstanding "legacy" issues. Nanotechnology
is an area where public engagement and strategic research need
to be pursued in parallel.
Pathways to the future : the early career of researchers
in the UK
7. CST made recommendations on how the management
of researchers at the start of their careers could be improved
in order to make a research career a more attractive option. It
recommendrd the development of a national framework for research
careers, and giving research staff greater independence at an
earlier stage. It was an important component to help RCUK revise
its Concordat on research.
8. CST is one of the official supporters of the
Concordat. The Council believes that the seven key principles
listed in the revised Concordat are important as a single unambiguous
statement of the expectations and responsibilities placed on researchers,
and on their managers, employers and funding bodies, and that
having a robust implementation plan will be crucial for success.
Nanosciences and nanotechnologies: a review of
Government's progress on its policy commitments
9. The Review by the CST concluded that
the Government had made good progress in many areas, including
support for and dialogue with industry and international engagement,
and on metrology and support for standards, but that it must commission
more work on the toxicology, health and environmental effects
of nanomaterials to assess risks, reassure the public and put
in place regulation as necessary.
Health Impactsa strategy across Government
10. The CST's recommendations emphasised the
need to embed health considerations at a very early stage of policy
development in a common and consistent way across Government;
and address the quality and availability of the evidence and the
need for public engagement and dialogue.
Services sector and public procurement
11. CST set out the challenge for Government
to understand the needs of services sector companies, and to foster
innovation by finding ways to connect them to the research base.
12. The Council also set out how Government can
better meet its own objectives and stimulate innovation in business
through better use of public procurement.
Better use of personal information: opportunities
13. CST's report set out how the use of
personal data by government offers enormous benefits, with the
potential to create more efficient and accessible public services,
but that the risks must be addressed in order to secure these
benefits. Key recommendations included the need for engagement
with the public and civil society groups, regulatory and governance
frameworks to minimise risks, and the need for research into privacy
An electricity supply strategy for the UK
14. CST's report recommended immediate investment
in large scale, low-carbon, energy generation facilities to meet
the Government's carbon dioxide reduction targets; the need to
keep the nuclear option open and place more emphasis on carbon
sequestration and tidal power.
15. It also recommended greater investment in
R&D aimed at new and renewable energy sources, energy management
and storage; improving the supply and training of skilled workers
in the UK; investment in the development of the national grid
to facilitate distributed and diverse generation and the need
to address regulatory issues arising from this form of generation.