The future of UK research was in the spotlight at a meeting (16 December) at the Academy entitled 'The new knowledge economy – making the best of the research base'.

The meeting was held by the Academy-hosted PolicyNet forum, and chaired by Fiona Fox, Director of the Science Media Centre, and addressed by a distinguished panel of speakers: Professor Brian Collins FREng, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Transport; Professor Sir Alan Wilson FBA FRS, Professor of Urban and Regional Systems, Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London, and Professor Sir Richard Friend FREng FRS, Professor of Physics at the University of Cambridge and Chief Scientist for Plastic Logics Ltd.

The panel discussed the best ways to use the research base to ensure economic growth, how to encourage enterprise, in addition to the importance of blue skies research and the need for long-term funding from investors. The discussion also focused on the value of universities, not only in terms of their research outputs, but for the provision of training and skills for the UK’s current and future workforce of researchers, employees and entrepreneurs.

The purpose of PolicyNet is to provide a forum for discussion on aspects of policy making within government, parliament and other organisations.  Another facet is providing networking opportunities for policy staff from a range of (mostly scientific) organisations such as learned societies, research councils and think tanks.

The next PolicyNet meeting will be held on 14 February 2011 to discuss “The challenges ahead for science, engineering and technology policy for the House” with Andrew Miller MP, Chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee. If you would like to attend, please contact Katherine MacGregor

Notes for editors

  1. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton