Council meeting March 2017

Information relating to the March 2017 meeting of Council.

Royal Academy of Engineering, London

For the meeting of Council to be held on 
01 March 2017 at the Royal Academy of Engineering, London

Item Number Item Description Document Reference
1. Welcome and Formalities Oral
2. CEO Opening Remarks Oral
3. Transition to UKRI - Update EPSRC 01-17
4. EPSRC Equipment Funding Policy on University Processes EPSRC 02-17
5. Developing EPSRC's Response to the Governments Industrial Strategy EPSRC 03-17
6. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Update EPSRC 04-17
7. Quantum Technologies Update EPSRC 05-17
8. Civil Service People Survey - Update EPSRC 06-17
9. Minutes of the previous meeting Minutes
10. Actions for last meeting Oral
11. Executive Report EPSRC 07-17
12. Audit and Risk Assurance Committee - Report from meeting 07 February 2017 EPSRC 08-17
13. Operational Update EPSRC 09-17
14. Communications Update EPSRC 10-17
15. Corporate Risk Log EPSRC 11-17
16. Any Other Business Oral
17. Next Meeting and Close Oral

Note from meeting

Council met on 01 March 2017 in London.

The main business of the meeting centred on:

  • Transition to UKRI;
  • Developing EPSRC's Response to the Government's Industrial Strategy;
  • EPSRC's Equipment Funding Policy;
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan ;
  • Quantum Technologies Update.

EPSRC's CEO, Professor Philip Nelson, began the meeting by providing an overview of the existing operating environment influencing the current risk landscape for EPSRC. He reported that he had recently met with Sir Mark Walport who had been appointed as the CEO designate for UKRI. He updated Council on the recent Balancing Capability exercise which had been published on 15 February. He added that the response from the EPS community had been mainly positive and he said that it was a credit to all of the EPSRC staff involved that the process had progressed smoothly and had been so well received. Professor Nelson said that he had recently visited the USA and provided a brief report on some of the key meetings he had attended, both in Washington and in Boston. Finally, Professor Nelson informed Council of the recent formal launch of the Rosalind Franklin Institute and a further recent announcement about the Sir Henry Royce Institute. He added that further new significant funding announcements were expected shortly.

Council considered a paper which provided an update on the current position with the HER Bill and the transition programme to the new structure. Council noted and welcomed the recently announced amendments to the Bill.

Council received a paper which provided an update on the Research and Development (R&D) policy landscape relating to the Government's developing Industrial Strategy. The paper reported on EPSRC's strategic response to date to the emerging policy landscape, and identified a number of opportunities arising and sought Council input to the Government's green paper consultation.

Council considered a paper which responded to previous discussions regarding EPSRC's Equipment Funding Policy. The paper presented information on how partner universities manage their capital strategically in the context of the 50% funding contribution requested by EPSRC as part of the funding policy for equipment. Council welcomed the data which showed no obvious changes in demand since the threshold requirement was changed, and noted the feedback from partner universities in the paper suggesting that the university response had been positive. Council noted the paper and agreed that there should be no immediate change to its existing policy but acknowledged that it was nevertheless important to continue to re-play to government the case for necessary levels of infrastructure investment.

Council received an update on the EPSRC (and RCUK) action plan to promote equality, diversity and inclusivity. Council noted the progress with the action plan so far and asked to be kept appraised of progress.

Professor Kai Bongs, Birmingham University, who leads the UK Quantum Sensors and Metrology Hub attended the meeting and provided an excellent overview of the work of that particular element of the national Quantum Technologies programme. Council welcomed the opportunity to hear about the science arising from its investment and to see a success story from this particular programme model. In the ensuing discussion Council were extremely supportive of the achievements so far and strongly affirmed its support for the Quantum Technologies programme, promoting its development of the next generation of key breakthrough/disruptive technologies, and taking responsibility for the necessary infrastructure to ensure commercialisation.

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) provided Council with a report of the meeting which took place on 07 February.

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 09 and 10 May 2107 and will subsequently be published on this page.