Council meeting May 2017

Information relating to the May 2017 meeting of Council.

St James Court Taj Hotel, London

For the meeting of Council to be held on
Tuesday 09 and Wednesday 10 May 2017 at the St James Court Taj Hotel, London, SW1E 6AF

Item Number Item Description Related Material

Formal meeting - Day 1

1. Welcome and Formalities Oral
2. CEO Opening Remarks Oral
3. Transition to UKRI - Update Oral
4. The Balance of Doctoral Students and Postdoctoral Researchers in the EPSRC Portfolio EPSRC 12-17
5. EPSRC's Response to the Government's Industrial Strategy Green Paper   EPSRC 13-17
6. Building an EPSRC Pipeline of "Big Ideas" within UKRI EPSRC 14-17
7. Meeting with Sir Mark Walport Oral

Formal meeting - Day 2

8. Day 1 reprise Oral
9. Outcome of the CDT Mid-Term Review EPSRC 15-17
10. Balancing Capability Lessons Learned EPSRC 16-17
11. Minutes of previous meeting Minutes
12. Actions from previous meeting Oral
13. Executive Report EPSRC 17-17
14. Audit and Risk Assurance Committee - Report from meeting 25 April 2017 EPSRC 18-17
15. Operational Update EPSRC 19-17
16. For Information: Communications Update EPSRC 20-17
17. For Information: Corporate Risk Log EPSRC 21-17
18. Any Other Business Oral
19. Next Meeting and Close Oral

Note from meeting

Council met on 09 and 10 May 2017 in London.

The main business of the meeting centred on:

  • Transition to UKRI;
  • Balance of Doctoral Students & Postdoctoral Researchers in the EPSRC Portfolio;
  • EPSRC's Response to the Government's Industrial Strategy Green Paper;
  • Building an EPSRC Pipeline of "Big Ideas";
  • Meeting with Sir Mark Walport;
  • Outcome of the CDT Mid-Term Review.

EPSRC's CEO, Professor Philip Nelson, began the meeting by providing an overview of the existing operating environment. He reported on the developments regarding the initial tranche of funding from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) and the work underway to develop a process to consider and identify potential areas for subsequent funding tranches. Professor Nelson also provided an update on progress with the new institutes. He reported that the BEIS Ministers had confirmed funding for the Sir Henry Royce Institute (£128M) and UKCRIC (£125M). The Minister had also announced a new £100 million investment into the Rosalind Franklin Institute. Finally he reminded Council that the Spring Budget 2017 had announced support from the National Productivity Investment Fund for highly skilled researchers and to develop the talent needed by British industries for a thriving and innovation economy. In particular, this included £90 million to fund 1,000 new PhD places aligned with the industrial strategy, together with funding to enhance the outcomes from existing doctoral studentships. EPSRC has been allocated half of this funding to deliver at least 500 studentships. He described the work that was underway to allocate these additional studentships through EPSRC's existing studentship routes.

Council received an update on progress in establishing UKRI as a shadow organisation, progress with key appointments and early indications about organisational design and governance.

Council received a paper which reported on the outcome of an exercise which sought to obtain university partners views on aligning doctoral studentship with research grants and the balance between doctoral and postdoctoral funding. Council welcomed the report and following some discussion agreed that the Doctoral Training Partnership should continue as the preferred route to provide doctoral studentships for Early Career Academics. Council also agreed that the First Grants Scheme should be renamed New Investigator Awards and that the cap on size should be removed. Further information and guidance will be published on the EPSRC website in due course.

Council received an update on EPSRC's response to the Industrial Strategy Green paper which had been developed with the help of some Council members. The response had been submitted to the Industrial Strategy Team at BEIS.

Council received a paper which focused on the development of a pipeline of big ideas which might be used in the future to meet new future funding opportunities. It reported on the progress that had been made in developing a template for the presentation of big ideas and also presented work in populating an initial big ideas pipeline in readiness for the establishment of UKRI and the portfolio of Big Ideas that have emerged. Council noted the paper and provided some initial thoughts on the future consultation processes and design options for the dashboard of big ideas.

Sir Mark Walport attended part of the meeting and he took this opportunity to set out his vision for for UKRI going forward and the emerging thinking about the structure and governance of the new organisation. A question and answer session followed and the discussion concluded by focusing on how Council might assist Sir Mark in successfully establishing UKRI as a world class organisation.

Council considered a paper which described the process and the emerging outcomes from the CDT mid-term review and the next steps including the next round of CDT investment. Council welcomed the update and particularly noted that the review had concluded that the majority of CDTs were providing high quality training which was setting the gold standard for cohort-based doctoral training in the UK.

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) provided Council with a report of the meeting which took place on 25 April.

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 04 and 05 July 2017 and will subsequently be published on this page.