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GovNet Communications - Science lessons

One year on from Lord Sainsbury's review of the government's science and innovation system, the GovNet Communications Science and Innovation conference is well timed to assess the state of the sector

Four years ago, the government set out its longterm vision to make Britain one of the best places in the world for science, research and innovation in its Ten Year Science and Innovation Framework 2004-2014. In November 2006, Gordon Brown, while still in his role as chancellor, commissioned Lord Sainsbury to conduct an independent review of the science and innovation system. The aim of the review was to take stock of the response of the state of the country?s science and innovation to the challenges and opportunities of globalisation, and to take a forward look at what needs to be done to ensure the UK?s continued success in wealth creation and scientific policy-making.

The Sainsbury review was published in October 2007, and noted that Britain has significantly improved its innovation performance in recent years, but still needs to do more to produce the best possible conditions to stimulate innovation in industry. Key recommendations of the review included the development of a detailed strategy for science and innovation, a new package of support for technology and innovation in business, new measures to improve the teaching of science, engineering and mathematics subjects, improving STEM careers advice, improved knowledge transfer between the research base and business, and increased international collaboration.

It is against this background that GovNet Communications? fifth annual Science and Innovation conference takes on such importance. The event, held on 2 October at the QEII Conference Centre in London, will examine how the key recommendations of the review have been taken forward by government with the aim of positioning Britain as a key knowledge economy at the forefront of 21st century innovation, able to compete with the emerging innovation hotspots of Asia.

Speakers at the event include:

Yvonne Baker
Chief executive, STEMNET

Yvonne Baker is the chief executive of STEMNET, a UK-wide organisation which promotes all aspects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to young people. STEMNET works with a diverse range of partners to provide co-ordination and a UK-wide infrastructure to enhance and enrich the STEM curriculum. It is the managing organisation for 53 SETPOINTs, specially selected organisations which offer students, teachers and schools access to exciting activities, experiences and business links.

Rob Daniel, PhD
First secretary, Science and Innovation,
British Embassy, New Delhi

Rob Daniel joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Science and Innovation Network in October 2005 specifically to go to India. The UK-India Education and Research initiative, which Rob was heavily involved with, has been successful in raising the profile of UK-India collaborative research, Rob is now working with the research councils and other sources of funding to ensure that this step change in our relationship with India is followed up with longlasting and sustainable relationships.

Susan Searle
Chief executive officer, Imperial Innovations

Susan Searle joined Imperial Innovations in 1994 and has been instrumental in the growth and transformation of the business. Susan was appointed to the position of chief executive officer in January 2002. Susan previously worked at Montech (Australia), Signet Group plc, Bank of Nova Scotia and Shell Chemicals Limited in the UK and internationally in a variety of business development and commercial roles.

Kathy Sykes
Chief executive officer, Imperial Innovations

Professor Kathy Sykes is professor of sciences and society at University of Bristol. She has a background in science engagement, having been head of science for Explore-At-Bristol helping to create a new hands-on science centre. As director of the Cheltenham Festival of Science, she has helped to create a new science festival and also Famelab ? a national competition, which talent spots and trains new talent in science communication. She is a member of the Council for Science and Technology, the government?s top science advisory group. She is a fellow of the RSA, the Institute of Physics, and the British Association, a trustee for NESTA, and sits on advisory groups on public engagement for the ESPRC and others. She is chair of the Sciencewise Steering Group, which oversees the embedding of good practice on public dialogue across government departments and agencies.

Gabrielle Walker
Science writer, New Scientist

Gabrielle Walker is a science writer, broadcaster and speaker. She has a PhD from Cambridge University and has been visiting professor at Princeton University, associate editor at Nature, and features editor at New Scientist ? for whom she now acts as consultant. She contributes frequently to BBC radio ? most recently as presenter for the flagship Radio 4 series ?Planet Earth under Threat?.

Phil Wilis MP
Chairman of the House of Commons Science and
Technology Select Committee

In 1999 Phil Willis was appointed Liberal Democrat shadow secretary of state for education and skills by Charles Kennedy, retaining the post until the 2005 general election when he was appointed chairman of the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee.

David Sainsbury
Lord Sainsbury of Turville

David Sainsbury became Lord Sainsbury of Turville in October, 1997. He was appointed minister of science and innovation from July 1998 until November 2006, and had responsibility for the Office of Science and Technology, Innovation, Space, the Bioscience and Chemical Industries and the Patent Office. In 2007 he produced a review for the government of their science and innovation policies, ?The Race to the Top?.

Dr Ailen Allsop
Vice president for science policy, R&D,

Aileen Allsop is vice president for science policy, R&D, AstraZeneca. She was born in Essex and educated in London, her first degree is in Biochemistry and her PhD is in Molecular Genetics. She joined Beecham Pharmaceuticals in 1981, immediately after completing her doctorate. Since then she has worked for more than 25 years in the pharmaceutical industry, initially in drug discovery, latterly in drug development and most recently in Science Policy, where she leads the team on behalf of AZ R&D.

Professor Adrian F. M. Smith, FRS
Principal, Queen Mary, University of London and incoming director general of science and research, Department for Innovation Universities and Skills

Prior to being principal of Queen Mary, Professor Smith was at Imperial College, London, where he held a number of posts over an eight-year period. These included professor of statistics, head of department of mathematics, member of the management and planning group and company director of ICON (Imperial Consultancy). From 1977-1990 he was professor of statistics at Nottingham, head of department of mathematics and a member of the University Council.

George Wright, Editor, moderngov Magazine
Science & Innovation 08 will take place on Thursday 2
October 2008 at the QEll Conference Centre, London.
For more information visit:

Added the 17 September 2008 in category Innovation UK Vol4-1

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