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Science advice in government: the next five years

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Sir Mark Walport gave a major speech setting out his key priorities on 18 April at the Centre for Science & Policy annual conference.

Sir Mark Walport gave a major speech setting out his key priorities on 18 April at the Centre for Science & Policy annual conference.

Published in: Technology, Education

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  • The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) is a not-for-profit public-private partnership to conduct basic science. Its main goal is to determine 3D protein structures which may be targets for drug discovery. Once such targets are discovered, they are placed in the public domain. By collaborating with the SGC, pharmaceutical companies save money by designing medicines that they know will ‘fit’ the target. The SGC was initiated through funding from the Wellcome Trust, the Canadian Institute of Health Research, Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation and GlaxoSmithKline. More recently other companies (Novartis, Pfizer and Eli Lilly) have joined this public-private partnership. The group of funders recently committed over US$50 million to fund the SGC for another four years. OTHER EGs InnoCentive is a service for problem solving through crowdsourcing. Companies post challenges or scientific research problems on InnoCentive’s website, along with a prize for their solution. More than 140,000 people from 175 countries have registered to take part in the challenges, and prizes for more than 100 Challenges have been awarded. Institutions that have posed challenges include Eli Lilly, NASA, nature.com, Procter & Gamble, Roche and the Rockefeller Foundation. Rolls-Royce University Technology Centres Imanova is an innovative alliance between the UK’s Medical Research Council and three London Universities: Imperial College, King’s College and University College. It trains scientists and physicians, and hopes to become an international partner for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Syngenta The Technology Strategy Board and Syngenta are building a system that helps scientists visualise the similarities between the molecules in ChEMBL, an openly accessible drug discovery database of over one million drug-like small compounds, and those in their own research.
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    • 1. Science advice in government: the nextfive yearsA work in progressSir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government
    • 2. 2 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress1. Knowledge translated to economicadvantage2. Infrastructure resilience3. Underpinning policy with evidence4. Science for emergencies5. Advocacy and leadership forscienceGovernment Chief Scientific Adviser
    • 3. Prisms and lenses – optical metaphors• Difficult issues need to be viewedthrough prisms and lenses• e.g. sentencing policy:……..3 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressD-Kuru/Wikimedia CommonsPreventingreoffendingDeterrenceRetributionPolicy often based onevidence and judgementNevin/BY-NC-ND 2.0
    • 4. • Imagination• Innovation• Entrepreneurship• Business Skills• Manufacturing,branding, .marketing anddistribution4 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressKnowledge to GrowthElectric incandescent lightingby Edwin J. Houston and A. E. Kennelly 1896www.openlibrary.orgThomas A. Edison(Image:KMJ/WikimediaCommons)
    • 5. 5 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress• Imagination• Innovation• Entrepreneurship• Business Skills• Manufacturing, branding,marketing and distributionWe are good at these……what’s holding us back?Knowledge to Growth
    • 6. • Incentives• Intellectual property and knowhow• Technology transfer machinery• Catalytic environment• Skills and leadership• Capital markets• Regulation• Business absorptive capacity• Good customer… and more?…….. 6 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressKnowledge to GrowthPAS 68 compliant barrier. Specification developedby UK Government. Ensures quality but leavesdesign and innovation to private sectorWe need to be catalytic and breakdown barriers:
    • 7. RealVNCA Cambridge software company that came fromdevelopments at Olivetti lab - closely connected withthe University Computing Department.Created in 2002 it produces software allowingremote control of one computer byanother. Applications include in-car connectivity ofsmartphones.Its products are now standard across the industry,with hundreds of millions of deployments, includingIntel and IBM. The company is now generatingsignificant revenue from paid for variants followingthe global penetration of its free versions.Knowledge to Growth- An outstanding example of success…….. 7 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress
    • 8. Infrastructure resilience- Engineered worldChallenges• Energy• Communications– cyber infrastructure andsecurity• Transport• Built environment• Waste…….. 8 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressComplexity (vulnerability) ofinterdependent infrastructureWhl.travel/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Jo.sau/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    • 9. Infrastructure resilience- Natural worldChallenges• Environment– climate and weather– space weather• Food and Water• Health…….. 9 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressComplexity (vulnerability) ofinterdependent infrastructureIndiawaterportal.org/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Mats molin/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • 10. …….. 10 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressInfrastructure Resilience:– EnergyNeed to look through (at least)three lenses:• Security• Cost• Environmental sustainabilityBut some things are clear:• Need a diversity of sources• Need specific advice• e.g. shale gas extraction• Need long term planning• There is complex interplay between engineering, economics and politics
    • 11. Need to view issue through four lenses– bee population (an environmental good andas pollinators)– insect and plant diversity– loss of crop yield– Insecticides and vectors of disease• Available evidence for harm to pollinators in thefield is equivocal• Economic impact of withdrawing another class ofinsecticides, in contrast, is quite strong• Neonicotinoids have been in use ~ 20 years…….. 11 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressUnderpinning policy with Evidence– Food securityNeonicotinoid Insecticides and an EUmoratorium?Tpmartins/CC BY-NC-SA 2.0Olaeinang/CC BY-SA 2.0
    • 12. Underpinning policy with EvidenceCorollary of looking at a problem throughdifferent lenses:A multifaceted approach to tackling problems ofpollinating insects• Evaluate effect of increasing diversity of flowering plantsin margins of fields• Increase the diversity of flowering plants• Make most use of novel cultural practices, natural plantdefence mechanisms, and bio-control measures.• Reduce the uncertainty about the toxicity of pesticides byfurther field work,• Ensure effective oversight of pesticide compliance withguidelines• Use new technology to reduce dependence on pesticidesand herbicides…….. 12 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressThomas Shahan/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    • 13. Underpinning policy with Evidence- from pesticides to crops developedusing best technologies• Conventional crop breeding haschanged plants dramaticallyalready but has limitations• Use genome science for directedbreeding programmes• Significant potential for GMtechnology• UK good at basic GM science butrestricted in application…….. 13 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress1940s wheat1990s wheatReaping benefits(October 2009)Science and the sustainableintensification of globalagriculture
    • 14. Underpinning policy with Evidence…….. 14 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressVariety: Desiree (Rpi-vnt1.1)Source: The Sainsbury LaboratoryBlight resistance gene taken from another varietyof a less commercially viable potato+ vnt1 gene - vnt1 gene
    • 15. Science for emergencies- all the sciences• National Risk Register• Contingency planning• Science input in emergencies…….. 15 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressCabinet Office Civil ContingenciesSecretariat: coordinates government wideplanning, response and recovery from civilemergenciesScience essential to predict, monitormitigate, respond and clear up
    • 16. Effusive VolcaniceruptionExplosive VolcanicEruptionSevere SpaceWeatherPublic DisorderDisruptiveIndustrial ActionEffusive VolcaniceruptionExplosive VolcanicEruptionSevere SpaceWeatherPublic DisorderDisruptiveIndustrial ActionNational Risk Register: 2012 Hazards
    • 17. COBR(A)Scientific Advisory Group forEmergencies(SAGE)Non-GovernmentalOrganisationsGovernmentScientistsIndustry Academia• 2009 – Pandemic Flu• 2010 – Volcanic Ash• 2011 – Fukushima• 2013 - ?•Operational response•Impact management•Recovery•Public InformationScience for emergencies…….. 17 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress
    • 18. Fukushima Disaster• On 11 March 2011 an earthquake ofmagnitude 9.0 hit approximately 100kmfrom Japan’s east coast• Sixth largest earthquake on record,followed by a devastating tsunami• Widespread infrastructure damage,including to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclearplant• Science advice was needed as to the effecton the nuclear plant and what that wouldmean for UK nationals living in JapanScience for emergencies…….. 18 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress
    • 19. Science for emergenciesThe Government process• COBR requests that SAGE meets toconsider reasonable worst casescenario;• SAGE advises that even in thereasonable worst case, the danger toUK nationals in Tokyo was negligible;• All minutes published shortlyafterwards on web…….. 19 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressCOBR(A)Scientific Advisory Group forEmergencies(SAGE)Non-GovernmentalOrganisationsGovernmentScientistsIndustry Academia
    • 20. Science for emergencies• SAGE advice is accepted; Britishnationals remain. Other countriessuch as France evacuate;• Sir John Beddington had lead role incommunicating advice:teleconference with the BritishEmbassy• Advice made publically available…….. 20 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressScience as diplomacy
    • 21. Science for emergencies21 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressSpace weather Atmospheric pollution Flooding Vector/disease incursionNatural Hazards Partnership: bringing together critical nationaland global scientific infrastructure
    • 22. Science budgetSplit between:Research Councilsand DepartmentalbudgetsLeadership for science- helping to make the case…….. 22 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressWe must collectively make the case for funding…
    • 23. 23 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressIt takes time to see a benefit,We must be prepared to answer thequestion: what has come of researchfunding of two or more decades ago?e.g. flat screen technology:• LCD displays – pioneering work done in UK1960s/70s• Cambridge Display Technology: spun out ofthe Cavendish Laboratory in 1992 to developpolymer organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs)– Panasonic use their technology in theirlatest products. The industry projections arefor OLED displays to displace LCDs.Leadership for science- showing the benefits
    • 24. Leadership for science- engaging the public• No single public – lots of differentconstituencies• Not about correcting the deficit inknowledge• Too easy to be at cross-purposes• Not about trust generically - trustis specific• Rational arguments will notalways (or fully) work----– though we mustnt be irrationalin response…….. 24 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress
    • 25. GCSAI need your advice…• Need to be proactive• GO-Science only as good as advice wereceive – we need your help• Role for us, to engage withscientist/engineers in academia andindustry, in your environments. Identifyareas that can translate to growth.• Important role for learned academies andother rigorous independent advice• Greater role for Government Science andEngineering network• Horizon scanning…….. 25 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progressDepartmental ChiefScientific AdvisersScience Advisory Counciland CommitteemembersWider ScienceCommunity1~20~3000(15,000)~1500~180,000
    • 26. • Need to look both forwards andbackwards• More historical analysis ingovernment useful but we mustintegrate and avoid silos…….. 26 Science advice in government: the next five years - A work in progress“Those who cannot rememberthe past are condemned torepeat it”George SantayanaJames Cridland/CC BY 2.0Bluebus/CC BY-NC 2.0
    • 27. Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and to obtain their permission for the use of copyright material.We apologise for any errors or omissions in the included attributions and would be grateful if notified of any correctionsthat should be incorporated in future versions of this slide set. We can be contacted through enquiries@bis.gsi.gov.uk .Science advice in government: the next fiveyearsA work in progressSir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government