Council meeting July 2017

Information relating to the July 2017 meeting of Council.

University of Glasgow, Scotland

For the meeting of Council to be held on
Tuesday 04 July 2017
in the Senate Room at the University of Glasgow, G12 8QQ

Item Number Item Description Document Reference
1. Welcome and Formalities Oral
2. CEO Opening Remarks Oral
3. Updating EPSRC’s International Strategy EPSRC 22-17
4. Industrial Strategy EPSRC 23-17
5. Update on the "Big Ideas" Pipeline EPSRC 24-17
6. University Engagement – Strategic Partnership Progress Report EPSRC 25-17
7. Proposed Structure for Delivery Plan Progress Report EPSRC 26-17
8. Minutes of previous meeting Minutes
9. Actions from previous meeting Oral
10. Executive Report EPSRC 27-17
11. ARAC Annual Report 2016/17 EPSRC 28-17
12. Operational Update EPSRC 29-17
13. For Information: Communications Update EPSRC 30-17
14. For Information: Corporate Risk Log EPSRC 31-17
15. Any Other Business Oral
16. Next Meeting and Close Oral

Note from meeting

Council met on 04 and 05 July 2017 in Glasgow.

On 04 July Council visited Glasgow University and met with members of staff and students and toured the School of Chemistry, the Quantum Technology Hub in Enhanced Imaging and the Bendable Electronics & Sensing Technology (BEST) Group.

On 05 July Council visited Strathclyde University and met with members of staff and students and toured the Technology & Innovation Centre and received presentations on aspects of the work underway there.

Council members welcomed the opportunity to meet staff and students at both institutions and to see at first hand some of the excellent EPSRC-sponsored research being undertaken there.

The main business of the Council meeting centred on:

  • International Strategy
  • Industrial Strategy
  • Update on the Big Ideas Pipeline
  • University Engagement

EPSRC's CEO, Professor Philip Nelson, began the meeting by providing an overview of some recent developments. He reported on progress in establishing UKRI as a shadow organisation, progress with key appointments. He also reported on developments regarding the initial tranche of funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and the work underway to identify potential areas for subsequent funding tranches. Finally he reminded Council that the Spring Budget 2017 had announced support from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) for highly skilled researchers and to develop the talent needed by British industries for a thriving and innovation economy. Since then it had subsequently been announced that a further £100 million would be made available from the NPIF to create the Rutherford Fund specifically to support fellowships for early-career and senior researchers, from the developed world and from emerging research powerhouses such as India, China, Brazil and Mexico, helping to maintain the UK's position as a world-leader in science and research.

Council received a paper which reprised EPSRC's current international strategy. It set out a number of key environmental factors which now needed to be considered in determining the ongoing strategy. Council were invited to consider a number of options in light of the changing global environment. Council recommended the need for a broader, more active strategy, accompanied by efforts to raise the profile of existing collaborations.

As a stimulus for discussion Council received two short presentations. The first focussed on EPSRC's portfolio from a "place" perspective and how this mapped on to the Industrial Strategy Challenge Areas. The second described EPSRC's current engagement and collaboration activities with SMEs and set out potential opportunities for supporting the needs of SMEs and how these might focus effort effectively to engage these stakeholders in the context of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Council received an update on progress with the development of a pipeline of potential investment ideas. The aim was to develop an approach to identifying and prioritising new "Big Ideas" that was flexible, responsive and organisationally robust. A standing advisory group had been established comprising representatives of Council, the Strategic Advisory Network and Strategic Advisory Teams. Council noted that the role of the group would be to act as a sounding board and challenge group, helping EPSRC to develop and implement processes, and test and improve the strength, and quality of the ideas under development.

Council considered a paper which provided a status report on EPSRC's university partnership activities. Council provided some steers on how EPSRC might further evolve its relationship-management with key university partners - especially in the light of discussions earlier in the meeting relating to place, SMEs and ideas-generation.

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) provided Council with a report summarising the work of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee during financial year 2016/17.
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 on 03 October and will subsequently be published on this page.