Professor Philip Nelson on the EPSRC Delivery Plan

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Professor Philip Nelson sets out the framework for the EPSRC Delivery Plan 2016/17 - 2019/20 around the four Outcomes of Productive, Connected, Resilient and Healthy.

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Professor Philip Nelson, Chief Executive - EPSRC

My name is Phil Nelson, I’m chief executive of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and I’m here just to say a few words about our Delivery Plan that’s taking us through to 2020 and helping us to ensure that the UK stays at the forefront of science and engineering on the world stage.

In putting together our Delivery Plan it was very much stimulated by what we thought we could do for the nation.  We had to really make a pitch in the government’s Spending Review to try and convince ministers that there’s tremendous value in science and engineering in the UK and so we did that under the four headings of making the nation better connected, healthier, more productive and resilient. We found that really resonated well with ministers and colleagues in government and the Treasury and so what we decided to do was to actually use that as a framework for what we might think about in terms of the future delivery of our portfolio.

We went through a very long process of consulting our community, of using our strategic advisory teams, our strategic advisory network and our council and all were really very helpful in helping us frame our ambitions that we are delivering under each of those headings.  I think that puts together something that both speaks to government and we hope very much will give our community a framework within which to work.

We completely understand that new technologies and engineering advances are built on strong foundations of basic science and it is essential that we keep those foundations strong.  So we are making sure that we allocate about sixty per cent of our research funding to bottom-up driven, investigator led research, the real frontiers of science that we want to make sure we keep strong in the UK.  We will be using the other forty per cent to really drive strategic initiatives that try and deliver on the outcomes we have promised to government.

We have actually put together four short films under each of the four headings of connected, resilient, healthy and productive.  They are all on the website and I encourage you to look at those.  We’ve always had this sort of top-down and bottom-up balance between what we have called challenge and capability.  Obviously for those that are closer to the applied science end of things, it will be more easier to see how your work might fit under these categories, but what we need to deliver them in the long-term is good solid basic foundational science.  New technologies rely on really good understanding of the physical world and we can’t do that without ensuring our science base has real strength and is really competitive globally.

Please come forward with your great ideas that helps keep our science base strong.