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Friday, October 03, 2008

Pearson gone, Drayson in

The BBC is reporting that Lord Paul Drayson has been made science minister.

Drayson holds a PhD in robotics and is a successful businessman. This makes him ideal for pushing the government agenda of converting our science into economic payback.

This is not just a straight shoehorn in to replace the former minister, it seems to go hand in hand with an upgrading of the position:

Lord Drayson said his appointment represented an upgrading of the science minister's role. He is to attend cabinet and will chair a new Cabinet Committee for Science and Innovation. The committee's task will be to ensure integration across government.

Some endorsements have already come from the movers and shakers:

"We welcome this appointment and look forward to working with Lord Drayson, whose proven interest in technology can only benefit the UK engineering community," said Dr Scott Steedman, vice president of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

And Professor Colin Blakemore, former head of the Medical Research Council, added: "There's no doubt he's been very creative in recognising opportunities to move from basic research into innovation in his own career, so he chimes very much with the government's current focus on translational research.

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

Phil Willis has welcomed his appointment:

The Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis, who is also chairman of the Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills, said Lord Drayson could make an excellent advocate for science.

"We desperately need a champion like him in the run-up to the next spending review," he commented.

"At both the graduate and post-doctoral level there is a very serious shortage of scientists and engineers. Given that 70% of the 20:20 workforce have already left school, we need to convert people already in work to science and engineering skills.

"I hope Paul Drayson will grasp the seriousness of this and make it his priority."

Finally, the new minister's first words in the job seem to be encouraging, particularly the final quoted sentence:

"Young people need to be inspired into opting for science and engineering careers.

"Look at me - I have had a blast. I am out here racing cars because I was a successful biotech entrepreneur. That depended on me studying for a PhD, and that depended on me studying maths, physics and chemistry at A-Level.

"I was also inspired by cool projects in the 60s and 70s like the space programme, and we now need to inspire the next generation with similar cool projects."

At time of writing I cannot find information on the fate of Ian Pearson and I doubt we will ever know why he was shuffled out.

We can always speculate of course, perhaps the Prime Minister was less than impressed with the mighty clusterf*ck that occurred with STFC on his watch. Maybe he has been moved onto bigger and better things.

Who knows?

1 comment:

Andy Lawrence said...

Kav - interesting news. It fits with the main drift of Wakeham, which is about the skill supply and economic impact.

You have enriched my vocabulary. I shall keep the word "clusterf*ck" for special occasions.