Putting Science and Engineering at the Heart of Government Policy - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents

Memorandum 48

Supplementary submission from the Council for Science and Technology



  The Committee asked for further advice on how the CST's report Strategic decision making for technology policy had been implemented.

Our report set out a priority-setting framework for making strategic choices, and used that methodology to identify six key technology areas which extra resource from Government would deliver returns to the UK within a five-year timeframe,[188] together with four further platform or enabling technologies.[189]

This note covers implementation of the overall framework and support for the individual technologies. We are pleased to see that, in almost all cases, Government and in particular the Technology Strategy Board, is taking forward our recommendations. Nevertheless, we shall want to return in the future to our original recommendations and carry out a more detailed assessment.


  TSB have provided us with the criteria they use to decide where to focus resources, and these are closely aligned with our own. They include UK capability, market opportunity, whether the idea is "ready" and what difference TSB intervention would make, as well as against other elements of the CST framework such as societal implications, risks, and why Government intervention is needed.

TSB also takes a challenge-based approach, focusing major societal challenges and identifying which technologies or combination of technologies can provide the best solution.


Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

  We are pleased that Government has a competition underway for public support for a CCS demonstration project, which was our main recommendation.

TSB supports CCS through a £15 millions competition for research, development and demonstration in Carbon Abatement Technologies, in partnership with DECC and the Northern Way.

  Government also provides support for the Energy Technologies Institute, which we understand is active in this area and that over the next year is looking to create a portfolio of CCS projects.

Disaster Mitigation

  TSB has a £10 millions competition, launched in 2008, on Gathering data in complex environments. While we are disappointed there are no plans for a Disaster Resilience Knowledge Transfer Network, as we recommended, we note TSB is proposing to establish special interest groups and we would encourage them to address the need to share expertise in this way.

Low Carbon Distribution Networks

Investment to reinvigorate the National Grid is essential to ensure that new, low carbon renewable technologies can be brought on-stream and that energy efficient utilisation can be accommodated.

The Council will be assessing progress in this whole area as part of its current project, commissioned by Government, on the National Infrastructure. In particular CST is looking at how various key components—energy, transport, communications, water—interact. We shall therefore be returning to this issue as part of that project, and will be reporting in the summer.

Medical Devices

  We are aware of a number of important initiatives, including the TSB's £15 millions Technologies for health competition in 2007 covering diagnostics and genetic screening, and joint initiatives such as the Healthcare Technology Co-operatives bringing together business, NHS, academic groups and patients to assess the feasibility of new innovations in clinical healthcare technologies.

We are pleased to hear that procurement is being used as a way of driving up innovative capacity in business, both through a pilot Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) between the TSB and Department of Health and through the TSB's Innovation Platforms. CST has been an early champion of the SBRI approach, which provides 100% funding for projects leading to future procurement opportunities.


  We are pleased this is being addressed through the TSB's Assisted Living Innovation Platform which was launched in November 2007 jointly between TSB, DH, and two Research Councils, EPSRC and ESRC. It is too early to assess outcomes.

Plastic Electronics

We are pleased to hear that the TSB has produced a strategy covering Electronics, Photonics and Electrical Systems setting out areas where UK has a world lead. We welcome their acting as a focal point for the analysis of the Plastic Electronics value chain in the UK, as we recommended. It will be important for TSB to address quickly the challenges of constructing a value chain analysis that retains wealth creation opportunities for the UK, as well as bringing together the major players to ensure exploitation of market and product opportunities in the UK.

We recognise TSB support—over £38 millions via collaborative R&D projects, the PETeC centre, and the Displays and Lighting KTN—and that the IUSS Committee itself has taken evidence in this area. All this underlines the importance of Plastic Electronics and the need for quick and effective actions to capture value for the UK.


  We are pleased to see that TSB has been supporting these technology areas, through for example Photonics21 (for Bandwidth telecommunications), Pervasive Computing (for Pervasive systems) and their £10 millions Cell Therapy competition in November 2007. We await sight of their Biosciences Strategy which we understand is to be launched shortly.

March 2009

188   These are: Carbon Capture and Storage; Disaster Mitigation Technologies; Low Carbon Distribution Networks for Electricity Supply; Medical Devices; E-Health; and Plastic Electronics. Back

189   These are: Bandwidth Telecommunications; Cell and Tissue Therapies; Pervasive Systems; and Simulation and Modelling. Back

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