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Science Summit: Strategy for Excellence

  • Thursday, 10 December 2015
  • America Square Conference Centre, London
  • 08:30 - 16:20
Expert Speakers
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  • Overview

Science Summit: Strategy for Excellence will support universities and research institutions in their strategies to achieve excellence in research and to deliver economic growth on an institutional, local and international level.

Excellence. Agility. Collaboration. Place. Openness.

These are the core themes set out in the Government’s ‘Our Plan for Growth: Science and Innovation’ paper, which sets out £5.9bn of capital to support scientific excellence. The review stresses the importance of research achieving excellence and the need to operate at a quickening pace and show agility to seize new opportunities. The importance of place is also recognised with continued investment in elite technology and innovation centres. The modern demand for openness and engagement is also key with HEFCE considering how to reward open data as part of the future REF assessments. The need to foster higher levels of collaboration between disciplines, sectors, institutions, people and countries is fundamental to boosting competiveness and productivity. The Dowling Review of Business-University Research Collaborations details further recommendations to support relationships between UK businesses and university researchers by reducing complexity. The UK has historically invested less in research and development than competitor nations so capitalising on its cutting edge research base is critical to our future prosperity and meeting societal challenges.

This conference will explore how to keep the UK’s research base at the cutting edge of world science outlining how to nurture scientific talent, support research excellence, forge strategic partnerships and catalyse innovation.

  • Confirmed Speakers

  • Event Programme


Registration and Coffee in the Networking Area


Chair’s Opening Address

  • Naomi Weir, Acting Director, Campaign for Science & Engineering (confirmed)

Session One: Excellence and Agility

"Characteristics of high-performing research units"

What are the characteristics of high-performing research units within UK higher education institutions? Using a sample of research units whose submissions in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 scored highly in the areas of research and impact, this study identifies characteristics, including people, culture, practice and strategy which are found in high-performing research units. This work, funded by HEFCE, and conducted by the Policy Institute at Kings and RAND Europe will be of interest to those involved in managing and funding research or facilitating high performance in research.

  • Paul Mason, Deputy Director Research and Chief Scientific Advisor, Innovate UK (confirmed)
"Turning research excellence into innovation excellence"

The excellence of the UK research base is universally acknowledged. But the knowledge gained during the research process doesn’t transition into business success of its own accord. The commercially successful application of ideas (innovation) is a challenging, resource intensive and time consuming activity. This session will highlight some of the challenges and describe what Innovate UK is doing to help UK innovators achieve greater success.

"Rapid response? Agile research and the challenges of innovating at pace"

Discussing how institutions and projects can foster agility to seize new opportunities and quicken the pace to respond to societal challenges such as emerging infectious diseases or climate change.


Question and Answer Session


Coffee in the Networking Area


Session Two: Collaboration and Place

"SciTech Daresbury: A place where Big Science, Innovation and Entrepreneurship delivers Business Growth and Jobs"

The presentation explores the development of the SciTech Daresbury science and innovation campus, outlining the early success as the campus has grown. Our vision is to build a place where world-class science and technology, dynamic innovation and business enterprise are successfully integrated to drive discovery, open up new commercial opportunities and deliver economic growth. The presentation outlines a strategy to develop such a place through five complementary but distinctive components:

• Sustaining scientific excellence

• Developing a world-class science campus

• Transforming innovation into business

• Succeeding through effective partnerships

• Attracting and developing the very best talent 

  • Dr Faye Taylor, Policy & Projects Manager, University Alliance (confirmed)
"Optimising the ecosystem: Collaborating for success"

 Exploring how to drive excellence and efficiency through research and training collaborations, such as through the Doctoral Training Alliance.

  • Professor Gerry McKenna, President Emeritus and Hon. Executive Secretary, Heads of University Centres of Biomedical Sciences (confirmed)
"Collaborating for Excellence: Developing strategic research partnerships"

There have been no fewer than 13 major reviews and reports during the past 12 years on university-business interaction within the UK. The most recent is the Dowling Review which focusses on the promotion of strategic, longer-term research collaborations to help drive economic development and prosperity. Its aims have been reinforced by the introduction of research impact assessments within the most recent and proposed future universities research assessment exercises (Research Excellence Framework) and by a number of recommendations included in the Nurse Review of the UK Research Councils. Notwithstanding the weaknesses identified in the various reviews, the strategic linkages between universities and business in the UK are strong and have evolved positively over recent years. Various government initiatives have accelerated and helped support the cultural change necessary for such partnerships to flourish. The further advancement of this process will require all the key participants (funders, investors, economic development and knowledge exchange promotion agencies, government, universities and business) to simplify their various interactions and communications, taking due account of the different and legitimate respective values involved, and varying regional- and sector-specific constraints and opportunities.


Question and Answer Session


Lunch in the Networking Area


Session Three: Openness and Global Partnerships

"Chair’s Afternoon Address"

Breakout Session

"Developing Strategic Partnerships"

 What are the contributions of local government levers such as LEPs, businesses and research institutions to economic growth? How can we build partnerships to deliver excellence, agility, openness and further collaborations? How might the complexity of strategic partnerships be best untangled?

  • Nicola Blackwood, Minister for Public Health and Innovation, Department of Health (confirmed)
"The vision for UK science, technology and innovation"

The government have pledged to prioritise science and innovation spending committing some £5.9bn of capital to support excellence up to 2021. The vision is for the UK to be the best place in the world for science and business and the ‘Plan for Growth’ sets out the strategy to build on the UK’s strengths and be open to emerging demands and new possibilities.


Question and Answer Session


Chair’s Closing Remarks


Event Close

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America Square Conference Centre, London

America Square Conference Centre, London

America Square Conference & Events Centre brings together the contemporary with the uniquely historic in bright, innovative spaces located in the heart of the City of London's Square Mile. The historic Roman London Wall runs through the venue providing a memorable backdrop to conferences, where delegates can enjoy presentations, mingle with exhibitors and enjoy a hot lunch in a secure, self-contained suite of rooms.

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