Supplementary memorandum submitted by
the Natural Environment Research Council
NERC welcomes The White Paper and the recognition
by government that a healthy and vibrant science base is an essential
component of a successful knowledge driven economy.
Chapter 2: Excellence in Science is well balanced
in that it addresses the need to attract school children into
science, the provision of adequate funds for infrastructure and
priority science areas, through to attracting and retaining top
researchers in the UK. NERC welcomes the increase in PhD stipend
(chapter 2, paragraph 33).
NERC welcomes government initiatives designed
to promote innovation in chapter 3: Opportunities for Innovation.
Whereas the emphasis on universities and regions is understandable
it should not be forgotten that public sector research establishments
are also part of the science base and that industrial sectors
The Small Business Research Initiative is a
new departure for the research councils (chapter 3, paragraph
33). Whereas NERC will endeavour to procure 2.5 per cent of its
research from small business, it must be recognised that this
will divert resources from universities and NERC research centres.
NERC welcomes chapter 4: Confident Consumers.
The move towards more openness and transparency is essential.
NERC is taking steps to ensure its decision making processes are
more transparent and now works on the presumption that information
should be open rather than confidential. NERC has also revised
its science and society strategy with a view to developing a more
consultative approach about priorities.
The process and outcome of the Science Budget
should encourage greater cross-research council working, which
The increased Science Budget to NERC resulting
from SR2000 is welcome. However it will not allow us to meet all
of our current priorities. Some difficult decisions lie ahead.
Although NERC will continue to fund the very best research through
its responsive mode funding stream, it recognises the need for
strategic research targeted at specific areas. NERC will play
a full role in delivering SR2000 priorities relating to the genome,
e-science and basic technologies. It will promote cross research
council approaches to these and other areas including technology
for sustainability and energy. The speed at which NERC can deliver
on new programmes is limited by the ability to recycle funds from
existing activities. The Council is actively looking at ways to
increase our financial flexibility.
9 January 2001