JOHN TAYLOR, director of the Hewlett Packard labs in Bristol, has been appointed director general of the research councils from next January, following the retirement of Sir John Cadogan.
Peter Cotgreave, of the pressure group Save British Science, said: "We are very pleased with this appointment. Although Dr Taylor comes from industry he has a very good understanding of the academic side."
Dr Taylor arrives at the Office of Science and Technology in the wake of the comprehensive spending review, which allocated an additional Pounds 1.1 billion to research funded through the Department of Trade and Industry. He will advise Peter Mandelson, who represents science at Cabinet level, on how the cash should be allocated.
A total of Pounds 600 million of this money, half of which comes from the world's largest medical research charity, the Wellcome Trust, has been allocated to renewing university infrastructure. Researchers from the physical sciences hope that Dr Taylor will act as a counterpoint to the director of the Wellcome Trust, Michael Dexter, in dispensing these funds.
"The big challenge is not to let the whole issue of science funding go off the boil," said Dr Cotgreave.
Dr Taylor has plenty of previous experience of government work. He chairs one of the Foresight panels, which are designed to identify new markets and the science required to exploit them. And he chaired a subcommittee of the old Science and Engineering Research Council. In the 1970s and 1980s he held various high-level research posts in the Ministry of Defence.
He joined Hewlett-Packard in 1984 and oversaw the creation of its Basic Research Institute in the Mathematical Sciences.
He is a fellow of the Royal Society, and a visiting professor at Imperial College, London and the University of Bristol.