I am the UK government’s ministerial adviser on science, research, innovation, space, emerging technology and intellectual property policy. My role involves working closely with ministers in the UK government department of business, innovation and industrial strategy (BEIS). So far I’ve worked closely with Chris Skidmore, Jo Johnson and Amanda Solloway in their stints as minister for science, research and innovation. The role is about strategy, policy and engagement; as a civil servant I am not involved in party political matters.
Until June 2019, I held an executive-level position at Research England, part of UKRI. That job involved working closely with the Executive Chair on organisational strategy and stakeholder engagement. Before that, I worked at BEIS (and its predecessor department, BIS) to help legislate for and set up UK Research and Innovation. Even before that I did a number of years at the Higher Education Funding Council For England (HEFCE) where I was involved in various research policy agendas.
I’m a bit of an old hand when it comes to issues relating to the cultures and infrastructures of research practice, information, communication, access and assessment. Open research was my specialism for a good while; I led the development of the Open Access policy for REF2021, I sat on the G7 expert group for open science, I supported Geoff Crossick on the OA monographs project and co-authored the Metric Tide report with James Wilsdon. The last of these was published as a book by Sage.
I set up a team at Research England to engage with universities and find out more about their priorities and challenges in research and knowledge exchange. Through this work, I became somewhat obsessed with our amazing university sector, which is truly one of the most wonderful things about this country, and something that should be strengthened through national policy. I’d love for people to talk proudly of the UK university sector in the same way people talk about the NHS – as a national treasure. But I also see issues, not just in universities but also in our wider R&D economy. Equality and diversity is a prominent one.
I am incredibly excited about the prospects of a more R&D-intensive economy and society. I truly believe that ramping up R&D investment – public and private – is the best way to raise productivity, prosperity and wellbeing. Structural issues around place, university-business partnering, the development-demonstration-innovation lifecycle, and skills development are particularly interesting. In each of these areas, I am super keen to hear about examples of successful practice so that policy can build on these.
I might use this blog for exploring these in more detail over the coming months, if I can find the time to post interesting things.
In my spare time I make music. Quite a lot of what I’ve done is part of a duo called Ersatz.
Tweet me at @ersatzben