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Policy and Public Affairs Update: 16th - 20th October

BSI Weekly Policy and Public Affairs Updates

October 16th - October 20th 


DExEU Chief Scientific Advisor appointed  


The Department for Exiting the European Union has appointed a Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA), Chris Jones, a civil servant already responsible for overseeing the justice, security and migration portfolios for the Department.

DExEU is a unique time-limited department with a coordinating function covering the full range of government business. In other words, it is responsible for bringing together key people from all government departments to ensure all areas are catered for throughout Brexit negotiations.

The decision to appoint a scientific advisor has been a long time coming. Almost immediately following the referendum, interested parties including the Commons Science and Technology Committee urged for a science voice in the department.

In an open letter to chair of the Science and Technology Committee, Norman Lamb, Robin Walker, Minister in DExEU, recognised the Committee’s recommendation to ensure that departmental decisions are informed by the best science and engineering advice. 


New Science and Technology Committee

Final membership for the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee have been announced.

Committee members include:

  1. Norman Lamb MP – LibDem (chair)
  2. Bill Grant MP – Conservative
  3. Darren Jones MP – Labour
  4. Clive Lewis MP – Labour
  5. Stephen Metcalfe MP – Conservative (former chair)
  6. Neil O’Brien MP – Conservative
  7. Graham Stringer MP – Labour
  8. Martin Whitfield MP – Labour
  9. Vicky Ford MP – Conservative
  10. Stephanie Peacock MP – Labour

The committee is one our main points of contact in Westminster. They are responsible for scrutinising the Government on issues relevant to Science, Technology and Research.


Wellcome Trust funding to speed action on superbugs

The Wellcome Trust has announced £2.4 billion investment in a new project to tackle the global impact of superbugs. The project altogether will be co-funded by the UK Government, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Wellcome.

The new project, The Global Burden if Disease AMR project is a collaboration between the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and The University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute and will map disease and deaths of drug-resistant infections. This will be the first project of its kind and should provide vital information on the spread and impact of drug resistance.


Brexit negotiations to date

The fifth round of Brexit negotiations came to a close at the end of September in Brussels.

Talks in this past rounds have focused on citizens’ rights, financial settlement, Northern Ireland and Ireland and on issues relating to general separation. Separate trade negotiations are expected to begin when more progress is made on these issues, possibly before the end of the year.

So far, there have been no major announcements coming out of the negotiations but both sides have commented on the clarification of several points and detailed discussions across multiple areas. The UK’s approach has been informed by a series of published position papers, such as the one on science and innovation published at the beginning of September.


Appointments to the UKRI councils

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has opened applications for its research councils.

UKRI is the new organisation that beginning in April 2018, will bring together the seven research Councils, Innovate UK and Research England. While under a single governing body and CEO, Sir Mark Walport, each of the research councils will be led by an Executive Chair who will be supported by a team of 5 to 12 members.

Council members will have a range of experience in research and innovation and come from several different backgrounds and with various skillsets. Applications close on 13 November 2017 and should be made directly to the research councils