Council meeting December 2014

Information relating to the December 2014 meeting of Council.

Royal Academy of Engineering, London

09 and 10 December 2014

Pre-meeting science talk

Big Data - Anthony Finkelstein and Dave Watson

Formal meeting

Item number Item description Document reference
1 Welcome and Formalities Oral
2 Outcome of the Autumn Statement Oral

Strategic Business for Decision

Item number Item description Document reference
3 Delivery Planning EPSRC 50-14

Early-Stage Careers

EPSRC 51-14

Strategic Business for Discussion or Direction

Item number Item description Document reference

Impact and Quality of Doctoral Training Models

EPSRC 52-14
6 Advanced Materials Strategy EPSRC 53-14

Delivery Monitoring

Item number Item description Document reference
7 Alan Turing Institute EPSRC 54-14
8 Research Sponsor / Investor EPSRC 55-14

Regular Business including Sub-Committee / Executive Reports

Item number Item description Document reference
9 Minutes of the previous meeting 07 / 08 Oct 14
10 Actions from last meeting 07 / 08 Oct 14
11 Executive Report EPSRC 56-14
12 Report of Audit and Risk Assurance Committee EPSRC 57-14
14 Operations Report EPSRC 58-14

For Information

Item number Item description Document reference
14 Communications Update EPSRC 59-14
15 Corporate Risk Log EPSRC 60-14
16 Any other Business Oral
17 Next Meeting and Close Oral

Note from meeting

Council met on the 9 and 10 December, Royal Academy of Engineering, London.

The main Council business concerned:

  • The Outcome of the Autumn Statement
  • Alan Turing Institute
  • Delivery Planning
  • Early Stage Research Careers
  • Impact and Quality of Doctoral Training Models
  • Sponsorship

Council noted and discussed the announcements in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on 03 December. The outcome of the government’s Science and Innovation Strategy was awaited with interest as this will have a bearing on EPSRC’s forward plans.

Council received an update on progress in establishing the Alan Turing Institute and the outcome of the Audit Committee review of the project governance arrangements. The Committee had concluded that both the risk and assurance processes were commensurate with such a high profile and intensely scrutinised project. Council noted the announcement of the British Library as the location of the Institute.

Council discussed the forthcoming Spending Review which was expected post 2015 general election. This would necessitate a new EPSRC Delivery Plan for the period from 2016/17. Council reflected on the major decisions it will be required to take in order to set the direction for the next Delivery Plan. This discussion had been helpfully informed by the output from the Strategic Advisory Network (SAN) Conference which had taken place on 12 November. Finally Council provided direction on the content of possible ideas, plans, priorities and questions which the Executive will take out to the community for discussion and feedback during the first quarter of 2015.

Council considered the outcome of a SAN work-stream which had made recommendations regarding the development of early careers researchers. This work stream had been prompted by Council’s recognition of the importance of ensuring that the academic people pipeline in the UK remains strong and diverse to enable the UK to produce future research leaders. Council acknowledged that there was scope for more active management by and for early career researchers and agreed a number of actions which were designed to help in this regard.

Council considered the outcome of a SAN work-stream which had explored the quality and impact of EPSRC’s approach to doctoral training. The issue of comparative quality and impact of EPSRC supported students was raised initially by Council in July 2012 in the context of discussions about the then forthcoming CDT exercise. Council members were conscious that making any conclusive, comparative evaluation of EPSRC’s three doctoral training routes was difficult until sufficient CDT cohorts had graduated. Council affirmed the work-stream’s key conclusion that all three routes were valued, both within university leaderships and by students themselves. Accordingly, there was no impetus for change at this stage. The question of relative balance between the three routes will be considered in the delivery planning process next year.

Council considered the outcome of another SAN work-stream which had sought to further develop the organisations’ sponsorship role and to find better ways to articulate and communicate this. Council welcomed the report and the constructive recommendations which set out some expectations for EPSRC in its role as an investor on behalf of society, and on those in whom we invest.

Council considered a paper setting out potential future activities to build on the critical role EPSRC plays in supporting advanced materials research and to ensure that there is a strong connection and leadership across the innovation pipeline to enable accelerated development of advanced materials applications.

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) provided Council with an update from the Committee’s most recent meeting.

Council received an Operations Report which provided an update on staffing and financial matters.

Council also noted a number of information papers including a report on corporate risks and a communications update.

The formal minutes of this meeting will be approved at the next Council meeting and will subsequently be published on this page.