External Champion to the RCUK Global Uncertainties Programme
Visting Fellow (2012) Centre for Science and Policy
I joined CSaP in January 2012, on an out-placement from government – a year-long Visiting Fellowship supported by RCUK’s Global Uncertainties Programme. My starting point was a commitment to improving engagement between the National Security (NS) community and the UK research base, in the recognition that researchers have a vital contribution to make to the security of the UK and the wider world.
I started with a six-month Inquiry Phase, conducting 76 interviews with academics, HMG officials, and industry representatives. This revealed that there were cultural, and to a lesser degree logistical, obstacles hampering effective engagement. We need to find ways to nurture relationships of trust, and to accommodate and join up fundamental research and applied science and technology.
I have subsequently been trialling a number of practical mechanisms to bridge the gap. These are about improving access and visibility, achieving more knowledge exchange, making commitments to partnership and collaboration, and turning research into capabilities through “pull-through”. For instance, I am testing the feasibility of releasing NS data to researchers, and have run a pilot NS Fellowship Scheme involving forty academics from twelve different universities.
My Fellowship culminated in a conference in December, when participants from academia and government reviewed progress and next steps. The results will now be considered by the National Security Council’s Science & Technology Committee. The ultimate aim is to develop initiatives that make a significant contribution to the UK’s NS Strategy, promoting strategic co-operation between end-users and academics and supporting the transformation of early-stage research into products and services.
At the same time, I'm pleased to have been able to act as a guinea-pig for CSaP in piloting the role of Visiting Fellow. My project has been enriched by access to the Centre’s diverse and high-quality network and propelled forwards by the goodwill that exists towards CSaP in government and academia.