Niche areas of expertise in danger
An investigation is being held to identify niche areas of expertise that are in danger of being lost from the bioscience research community. A consultation launched by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Biosciences Federation will aim to set priorities for investment in strategically important and vulnerable areas. Celia Caulcott, director of innovation and skills at the BBSRC, said certain areas were particularly vulnerable to factors such as the retirement of existing specialists or limited training and career opportunities.
Isis adds consultancy services
Isis Innovation, the University of Oxford's technology-transfer company, is to focus on providing a consultancy service to the private sector. Its consultancy arm, Lean Innovation, will offer firms advice to help them improve effectiveness in research and development, and minimise waste. Tom Hockaday, Isis' managing director, said: "A few companies have successfully broken down the barriers and reaped financial rewards, but many are struggling to develop a clear innovation strategy." The move comes as Isis continues to expand. Recruitment is under way for four more staff to commercialise technologies that have been developed at Oxford.
Animals in research
The Government is listening
The Home Office has launched a public consultation on the European Commission's proposal for a new directive to strengthen regulation of the use of animals in scientific experiments. Earlier this month, members of the European Parliament voted to water down many of the key animal welfare provisions contained in the revised directive. The Home Office says the public consultation will help shape and inform the UK's negotiating position, with member states due to consider the new directive after the European elections are held in June.
£60m boost to aid recovery
A further £60 million of capital funding has been approved by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to finance projects starting as early as this month. The money is being made available in the second round of a programme to bring forward capital spending projects in the sector. The Government hopes this will stimulate economic recovery. In total more than £200 million of capital funding is being brought forward, and the programme is set to fund almost 150 projects.
Undergraduates to mentor pupils
A scheme that pairs students with local schools to promote access to higher education is to be rolled out nationally after a successful pilot. The Aimhigher Associates scheme was trialled last year. From September, it will aim to recruit 5,500 undergraduates to mentor more than 21,000 school pupils, many from disadvantaged backgrounds. Last year's pilot scheme involved 77 higher education institutions, 1,380 student associates and benefited more than 7,000 pupils. In April 2008, John Denham, Universities Secretary, set aside £21 million to finance the scheme, over three years.