Drayson back in Whitehall with science portfolio

October 9, 2008

Businessman, life peer, racing driver - the multi-faceted Paul Drayson has returned to Government as the new Science Minister.

Lord Drayson, who has a PhD in robotics and is known to be a keen supporter of technology and innovation, replaced Ian Pearson in last week's government reshuffle.

It is a return to ministerial duties for Lord Drayson, who was Minister for Defence Procurement between 2005 and 2007, when he quit to race cars in Le Mans.

It was reportedly from a race circuit in Atlanta, in the US, that he took the call from Gordon Brown inviting him back into Government.

Colin Blakemore, former head of the Medical Research Council, said Lord Drayson's business career, in which he founded a successful vaccine-manufacturing firm, illustrated his knack for exploiting opportunities for translational research.

"I do think he can be trusted to defend the investment needed for the basic research that is essential for innovation in the future," he said.

Diana Garnham, chief executive of the Science Council, said she welcomed the appointment of someone with direct experience of science-based industry, and Phil Willis, chairman of the Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills, praised Lord Drayson as a long-time "advocate for science".

He said: "We desperately need a champion like him in the run-up to the next spending review."

john.gill@tsleducation.com

'CHECK OUT INNOVATION'

Lord Sainsbury, former Labour Science Minister, has said that the Government should re-establish the post of director-general of innovation if the science and business sectors are to stay competitive.

Speaking a year after the publication of his review of UK science and innovation, Lord Sainsbury said the role that he had created had been "shut down", but should be "reinstated".

While the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills had been "running fast" on innovation, the rest of Government was on a "stroll", he said. "More energy is needed if we are going to win in the global economy."

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