I note with interest the publication of the Science and Technology Committee report on the science budget – and your coverage of its recommendations on the underuse of major facilities (“New labs ‘lying idle’ due to science budget mismatch, MPs warn”, 9 November).
However, it is important not to lose sight of the need to also get the best value for money from other research assets owned by the sector.
A good deal is already being done in this area. The website equipment.data.ac.uk – an online catalogue of research equipment – provides details of more than 10,000 items of high-value research equipment such as mass spectrometers and gene sequencers, with a combined value of more than £200 million.
Jisc is currently looking to develop the website into a national service that streamlines the equipment-sharing process and enables universities to report back on the extent of their equipment utilisation and sharing.
Given the scale of the asset base, even a marginal improvement in equipment sharing across the sector could result in millions of pounds of efficiencies. I would encourage your readers to get in touch with us via jisc.ac.uk/contact if they would like to be involved in this work, or to discuss making data on their own equipment available.
Chief executive, Jisc
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