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Building a culture of engagement: First BBSRC open meeting

15 February 2005

24 February 2005 6pm-9pm
1 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AA

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is holding it first ever open meeting on 24 February 2005 . The meeting will give stakeholders the opportunity to hear presentations on BBSRC’s current policies and decision-making process and to question Chief Executive Professor Julia Goodfellow and Director of Science and Technology Professor Nigel Brown.

Controversies over food safety, vaccines and GM have led to heightened public and media awareness of the governance of science. Public trust in scientists requires that decision-making is made open and transparent and that senior figures are accountable and accessible. BBSRC sees this meeting as an important stage of this process, building on work already cited in an editorial in Nature 1 but also moving forwards in response to recent calls for the scientific community to engage with all stakeholders, including the public, much earlier in the process of research funding, conduct and application.

BBSRC has invited James Wilsdon, Head of Strategy at the think tank Demos to give the meeting an independent perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing BBSRC as the Council aims to become more open and accountable. The meeting will be chaired and facilitated by the science writer and broadcaster Vivienne Parry.

BBSRC Chief Executive, Professor Julia Goodfellow said, “BBSRC is committed to strengthening and developing our strategies for public involvement and consultation. Our first open meeting will give all interested parties the opportunity to hear first-hand about our priorities, policies and new decision making processes and allow them to ask the questions they want.”

Members of the media are welcome to attend the BBSRC Open Meeting. Entrance is by ticket only, available from Matt Goode, BBSRC Media Office, Tel: 01793 413299

ENDS

Notes to editors

The first BBSRC open meeting is being held on Thursday 24 February from 6pm-9pm at 1 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AA. Light refreshments (wine and canapés) served on arrival.

A broad range of stakeholders, with a direct interest or involvement in BBSRC’s work, or a wider interest in science policy and public engagement have been invited to the open meeting, which has been advertised on the BBSRC website and in the BBSRC quarterly magazine. The meeting is fre and open to anyone although entrance is by ticket only. A response to the findings of the meeting will be sent to all participants later in the year.

BBSRC was mentioned as a leader among the Research Councils in public engagement in Nature, 21 October 2004, Volume 431, Issue 7011.

A number of recent reports have called for public engagement earlier in the priority setting process. These have included: Government’s Science and Innovation Framework (July 2004), Royal Society/RAE report on nanotechnologies (July 2004), Demos report on ‘See-through Science’ (Sept 2004) and the Food Ethics Council report on ‘Just Knowledge?’ (Dec 2004).

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £380 million in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk

About Demos

Demos is a greenhouse for new ideas. As an independent think-tank, its aim is to create an open resource of knowledge and learning that operates beyond traditional parties and disciplines. Like a greenhouse, Demos is open and transparent. It shares its ideas as widely as possible, through books, seminars, conferences and the internet. As a registered charity, all its research is carried out in the public interest. Demos has a strong track-record of work on science and technology.

Contact

Patrick Middleton, Head of Engagement

tel: 01793 413368

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299

Tracey Jewitt, Media Officer

tel: 01793 414694
fax: 01793 413382