Research at Risk

Science and Innovation 2016 Conference

On Tuesday last week, I was lucky enough to be the Jisc envoy – along with a few other Jisc colleagues and two project leads from our research data spring initiative – at the Science and Innovation Conference 2016. The conference took place in the fabulous and very central venue – The Queen Elizabeth II Centre – next to the Houses of Parliament.

The GovNet conferscience & innovationence was designed to bring together high-level personnel within higher education institutions in the UK in order to discuss, share experience and drive the research impact agenda on the UK economy. The conference had a lined up significant sector stakeholders for the keynote speeches.


I was particularly impressed by the figures that evidence the lead position of the UK science and innovation in the world. UK has just 1% of the population in the world, and whilst it spends 3% GDP on funding, but publishes 8% of the world papers and 16% of the most highly cited papers.

Tim Dafforn, chief scientific advisor at BIS, pointed out to a great opportunity for UK institutions. When speaking with UK developers in Silicon Valley he realised that while UK is accelerating in research and innovation from a position of strength, our universities are only producing graduates that can work in companies. Whereas the USA graduates run companies.

Most speakers have also mentioned the prospects generated by the changes in the research councils and the planned science budget. The £1.5 billion of official development assistance funding for UK has taken the forefront.

On the impact of science for the UK economy, all speakers have mentioned great use cases and examples:

Innovate UK has introduced new financial products like equity funding along with grant funding as a result of the Dowling review.

The UK Collaboration for Research in Infrastructure and Cities was developed based on a novel way of engagement and collaboration. The initiative set out multiple hubs and has taken a multi-spokes approach, where different institutions are leading on different work packages. This is something we may consider for our own projects in the near future.

Professor Fan from Brunel University talked about the opportunities presented to UK business interested in recycling metal, as they are developing methods that would save the UK the £370 per tonne of Aluminium scrap spent on exporting.

Sam White, Assistant Director, Bioeconomy Policy at BIS spoke to a number examples that show how UK is leading in agricultural technology. You can already find these on from NCUB.

In the afternoon, David Sweeney touched upon a few critical themes, such as the immense competition from investment in research in the Far East; and how do we create incentives to promote interdisciplinary research.

Strategies don’t solve the problems of the world, we need researchers that are involved and interested. /David Sweeney/

Jisc seminar

Martin Hamilton and I along with Fiona Murphy, the project manager for “Giving researchers credit for their data” and Athanasios Velios, the project manager for “Artivity” held a one-hour seminar. We presented on the Jisc work toward an integrated infrastructure to support research data management within higher education institutions in the UK.

The discussion was quite lively. We had questions around the research data discovery service, the Jisc work on framework agreements and deals for the sector. We also had an interesting question around the indicators of success for our projects. We aim to develop and incorporate these from the start of the projects and work out the KPIs for a service while we are preparing to launch and deliver it. We normally develop these in collaboration with the sector via the Steering and Expert Groups. At the moment, we are developing the impact maps for the research data shared service, so watch this space.

If you want to get involved in any of these projects or have some feedback, do not hesitate to contact us on