Newsletter April 2010
Welcome to the eighth newsletter from the Centre for Science and Policy - the University of Cambridge's initiative to strengthen relationships between policy makers and experts in science and engineering. In this issue:
- Innovating in Innovation
- Policy Fellows visit Cambridge in May
- CSaP appoints first Associate Fellows
- CSaP news in brief:
- A warm welcome
- Seminars and lectures
- Placements and fellowships
Innovating in InnovationInnovation - particularly the means by which a culture of innovation can be encouraged and supported - is a recurrent concern of policy makers, and was frequently raised during the CSaP's recent programme of consultations in Whitehall. Both economic policy makers, and those interested in improving the process of policy-making itself, are in search of an understanding of where innovation comes from, and how interventions can be most effectively targeted. Discussions with civil servants have focussed on how innovations arise primarily in process rather than in products, and on the need to maintain blue sky research in order to sustain the pipeline of new ideas and insights. Most importantly perhaps, the interest in this area cuts across disciplines and departments - it's not only in the ministry which has "innovation" in its name (BIS), but also in the Treasury, DEFRA and elsewhere; moreover, policy makers see a need to "complete the triangle" by bringing both academics and industry into the discussion, which the CSaP is excellently placed to achieve. More...
Policy Fellows visit Cambridge in MayAs mentioned in previous newsletters, the CSaP is currently running the pilot phase of its Policy Fellowship Programme, which is intended to provide an insight into the role which the sciences and engineering can play in the formulation of public policy, by bringing civil servants, elected officials and other policy makers to the University for brief periods as the basis for knowledge-sharing and building ongoing relationships. During the week of 10 May the Centre will be welcoming two new Policy Fellows: Lucia Costanzo (Head of EU Research Policy in the International Science and Innovation Unit of BIS), and Michael Eaton (Director of the Public Sector Broadband Aggregation Network for the Welsh Assembly Government). Both Lucia and Michael will participate in the CSaP events taking place in that week - a dinner discussion held by the $100 Genome CIG, a meeting of the CSaP Advisory Board, and a lecture on evidence-based policy by DEFRA's deputy CSA - and will hold a series of one-on-one meetings with senior researchers in relevant areas. More...
CSaP appoints first Associate Fellows The Centre for Science and Policy is delighted to announce the appointment of its first Associate Fellows - a title designed to recognise the role of a few members of the Centre's Associate Network who have made, and we hope will continue to make, a particular contribution to its objectives and development. The inaugural Fellows are Ben Martin (former Director of Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Sussex), David MacKay (Professor of Natural Philosophy in the Department of Physics, and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change), and David Howarth (Reader in Law in the Department of Land Economy, who is returning to the University after deciding not to stand for re-election as MP for the City of Cambridge).More...
Innovating in Innovation (cont.)
In response to these demands, the CSaP is working with the UK Innovation Research Centre (UK~IRC) and others to design a consultation, seminar and workshop programme which will bring together the latest research and those who are best placed to apply it. UK~IRC is a collaborative research initiative between the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London for cutting-edge research and knowledge exchange activities on how innovation can make businesses more competitive, improve public services delivery and help the UK meet the social, environmental and economic challenges it faces. As well as extending the reach of this group more widely across Whitehall, the group convened by CSaP intends to broaden the range of disciplines by bringing in innovation specialists from Engineering and other parts of the University, as well as CSaP Associate Fellow Ben Martin from SPRU, who has already worked with the UK-IRC on the evidence base for innovation policy.
The group expects to provide a research-based critical analysis of existing models of innovation and innovation policy design, and to encourage new ways of thinking - for example, to show how the "innovation systems" model might represent an improvement on approaches based on the "market failure" model. The UK-IRC is conducting international comparative research and case studies in this area; by bringing together a range of disciplines, the group is looking to engage in a concrete way with the process of policy formation rather than just to study it, and to work with and across departments which are well set up to access scientific expertise in their own domains, but not to understand the process by which science creates innovation, or indeed the approaches being taken elsewhere in government. Ultimately it will address the key question facing policy in this area today - how can scarce resources best be used to stimulate innovation in the economy?
The group will begin by convening a consultation meeting in Whitehall to gather input on policy makers' needs and on the key questions that need to be addressed in developing innovation policy in the recovery. If you are interested in participating, please contact UK-IRC at email@example.com or CSaP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Policy Fellows visit Cambridge in May (cont.)
Lucia Costanzo's focus on research policy within the EU, as part of the work of the International Science and Innovation Unit (ISIU) in BIS, is very relevant to the Centre's objective to establish links with EU researchers and policy makers. Her research interests in innovation and "grand challenges" such as climate change and food security echo important themes in the Centre's Interest Groups. Her interests in European research have provided the focus for choosing the Cambridge researchers and officials with whom she will meet during her initial week as a Policy Fellow - including the CU Research Office, senior CU administrators active in the League of European Research Universities (LERU), and European grant holders in the Department of Biochemistry, the Department of Electrical Engineering, and the Institute of Biotechnology.
Michael Eaton has been a senior civil servant for six years, following 23 years' experience in high-tech multinational corporations (raising finance, R&D, product management, strategic marketing, new business development and corporate venturing). Having first been recruited to lead Broadband Wales (a £115 million market intervention across the public and private sector) and the national ICT strategy, he was then appointed to the First Minister's Senior Science Advisors Group, and also represented Wales at the UK Cabinet Office CIO Council, helping to create the Government IT Profession and IT Academy. The Public Sector Broadband Aggregation (PSBA) network that he now leads is a complex multi-agency collaboration worth £250 million over seven years, forming a major infrastructure component in Wales's public service improvement programme.
Michael's core interests are exploiting ICT in all its forms, and coping with complexity in delivery systems that are hybrid human/technology creations. During his Policy Fellowship he proposes to explore a range of intriguing questions, including complexity in service delivery networks (are there mathematical or systems engineering approaches that can be developed specifically to optimise public service delivery chains and networks, exposing or helping with "trust" boundaries?), public sector information sharing approaches (are there approaches that could be used for a generic multi-party environment that meets different actors' requirements?) and "value for money" models for interventions that need to include sustainability criteria (what is sustainability, and how should it be modelled for public sector investments?). During his first week as a Policy Fellow, Michael will have meetings with senior researchers in the Computer Lab, Microsoft Cambridge, Judge Business School, the Department of Engineering, the Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership, and other departments and centres.
CSaP appoints first Associate Fellows (cont.)
Professor MacKay's association with the CSaP goes back to its inception. As well as being involved in the original discussions about its concept and positioning, he gave the Centre's inaugural Distinguished Lecture in January 2010, memorable for its unique insights into what it's really like to move from academia into government. He will be back in Cambridge to develop his thoughts on this subject as part of the expert panel for the Associate Seminar on 14 June, Working on the Inside. Professor Martin followed in his footsteps to give the second Distinguished Lecture in March, covering the key advances that have been made in his field over 50 years, and sparking a lively debate about how research can influence policy. He is part of the group designing the Centre's interest group on Innovation, and we hope to welcome him regularly to Cambridge both for events and for advisory board meetings. David Howarth is now working closely with the Centre to understand how his experience in Westminster can support bridge-building into the policy making community, as well as engaging in wider discussions about Cambridge's contribution to teaching and research in policy-related areas.
In return for the Associate Fellow's support and (where appropriate) promotion of the aims and objectives of the CSaP, the Centre will provide opportunities to give lectures, seminars and workshops - in Cambridge and in Whitehall - and will invite the Fellow to participate in its events, including Centre Interest Group events, and meetings of the Advisory Board; the Centre may also seek the Associate Fellows' advice in less formal ways from time to time. We hope and expect that an ongoing dialogue will be of value both to the Fellow and to the Centre in terms of introductions, networking, advice and intelligence.
CSaP News in Brief
A warm welcome... The Centre for Science and Policy is delighted to welcome Professor Alan Hughes, Director of the Centre for Business Research, as a member of its Executive Committee in succession to Arnoud de Meyer, the outgoing Director of Judge Business School. We are very grateful to Arnoud for his championship of the Centre and his role in its development, and we look forward to working with Alan on future directions, including those related to his areas of interest in business, economics and innovation.
Associate Seminar Series. The date and line-up for the second event in the CSaP's Associate Seminar series - Working on the Inside - opportunities for scientists to work inside policy making - have been announced. The Seminar will be held on 14 June, starting at 4.00, and the panellists will include Dr Rob Doubleday (ESRC Policy Placement Fellow at the Government Office for Science), Professor Michael Kelly (former CSA in the Department for Communities and Local Government), Professor Frank Kelly (former CSA in the Department for Transport), Professor David MacKay (CSA in the Department for Energy and Climate Change), and Dr Eoin O'Sullivan (Senior Policy Fellow, Institute for Manufacturing). If you would like to attend please contact us.
Lecture on evidence-based policy. Dr Miles Parker, Deputy CSA at DEFRA, will address a meeting on Science and Policy on 14 May, under the title Evidence-based policy making: how can government be an intelligent user of science? The lecture will be held at 8 Mill Lane (Seminar Room 1), from 5.00-6.00, followed by questions and debate. The event is supported by the Darwin College Student Association and the Cambridge Centre for Climate Change and Mitigation Research (4CMR) as well as CSaP. For registration and further information, please email email@example.com.
Distinguished Lecture Series. A few places are still available for the next event in the CSaP's Distinguished Lecture series - Our Easter Island Moment: is it already too late to save the environment? - which will be given on 7 June 2010 by the journalist and broadcaster Sarah Mukherjee. The lecture will focus on the need for leadership and strategic thinking in policy making for the environment, and on the role of academic learning, the media and government in advancing - or failing to advance - the agenda. If you would like to attend the lecture please contact us.
Placement and fellowship programmes. The CSaP welcomes approaches from academics interested in working in Whitehall (e.g. on "placements" during the summer research period) and from civil servants interested in coming to Cambridge as Policy Fellows to meet and work with leading physical and social scientists and engineers. If you would like to know more please contact us with details of your interests and availability.
A debt of gratitude. CSaP would like to thank the David Harding Foundation and the Isaac Newton Trust for their donations which made the Centre's creation possible.