BSA Future Debates Winchester
The Administrative Data Research Centre for England hosted a free public debate on Thursday 2 November 2017 at the Winchester Discovery Centre.
The event was part of the UK-wide 'Future Debates' series (#futuredebates) run by the British Science Association (BSA) and supported by Genomics England. With this series, the BSA aims to "empower many more people – not just scientists – to constructively engage in debates over science’s role in their lives, their local economy, and the UK’s future" and "to gather information about the opinions of attendees, with the aim of creating a report that will be presented to the Chief Medical Officer for England".
The Autumn 2017 debate focused on the question of:
'Does it matter who funds science?'
The event in Winchester was chaired by Vice President (Research and Enterprise), University of Southampton, Professor S Mark Spearing and the debate panel included:
- Professor Peter W.F. Smith, Director of the ADRC-England and Director of the ADRN
- Debrah Harding, Managing Director of the Market Research Society
- Guy Goodwin, Chief Executive of NatCen Social Research
- Emma Greenwood, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Cancer Research UK
- Professor Mark Cragg, Professor of Experimental Cancer Research, University of Southampton
- Professor Colin Upstill, Managing Director of the IT Innovation Centre, University of Southampton
- Professor Paul Roderick, Professor of Public Health, University of Southampton
The panel members examined the topic of science funding and who does it and took questions from several members of the public. A total of 55 people from academia and the general public actively took part in the debate.
Silvia, ADRC-E Communications, Public Engagement and Events Manager opened the night with a short interactive introduction, which provided an audience demographic and an outline of the research funding system in the UK. During the presentation she showed the current situation reported by the Office for National Statistics Statistical bulletin: Composition of UK gross domestic expenditure on research and development by performing sector, 2015 with the business sector contributing 66% of the UK gross domestic expenditure on research and development (vs 25% Higher Education, 7% Government and Research Councils, 2% Private Non-Profit).
Source: Office for National Statistics Statistical bulletin: Composition of UK gross domestic expenditure on research and development by performing sector, 2015
Data for product groups with the largest R&D expenditure in 2015 were also reported (ONS source). These showed pharmaceuticals (£4.2 billion) leading the ranking, followed by motor vehicles and parts (£2.7 billion), computer programming and information service activities (£2.4 billion) and aerospace (£1.7 billion).
Silvia then presented the panel's chair, Professor Mark Spearing, who introduced all panel members and asked them their opinion on the definition of scientific research and which are the key bodies that fund research in their specific sectors. Questions were then opened to the floor and discussed themes included: scientific integrity and transparency, publication of negative results, blue sky research, relation between public vs private interests, the possibility for the private industry to take part to the All Trials campaign, the development of the new UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the relevance of the Research Excellence Framework (REF), Brexit and the freedom of movement for research personnel.
The night was then concluded with a final questionnaire to evaluate attendees' opinion on the event, followed by acknowledgements by Professor Peter W.F. Smith to the panel members and the public.
Find below a gallery of images from the night.
We also gathered a Twitter Moment in order to collect all live reactions across the night.