Recent highlights

These posts are some of the recent highlights from the CaSE blog. To see all of our recent news and commentary, please see our full blog.

Transformations: delving into an alternative side of science

From 18:00 on Tuesday 8 September, Bradford’s independent quarter will transform as part of this year’s British Science Festival. ‘Transformations: North Parade after dark’ promises an evening fusing science, art, music and everything in between.

The evening’s theme of transformations is fitting on many different levels. The North Parade area has undergone a recent revival and a host of new independent venues have opened with the desire to offer something different.

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Assessing the UK’s soil policy

In this International Year of Soils, there is growing recognition of the problems affecting our soils and the need to address those problems for our collective future. Certainly there is widespread concern amongst the soil science community and, I think, growing recognition of the problems amongst the farming community. But we do not yet have widespread public awareness of the value of soils or effective support amongst policy makers. We are publishing our Living Soil: a call to action report, which we hope will help to change that.

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CaSE welcomes new member Facebook

FB-f-Logo__blue_144Facebook is one of the world’s largest social networking services with offices and research facilities all around the world. With approximately 500 staff in the UK, Facebook relies on a skilled workforce of software engineers, mathematicians and data scientists to drive its business. Read More »

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CaSE refused information on BIS “efficiency and effectiveness review”

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has refused to provide information to CaSE on the scope or findings of an “efficiency and effectiveness review” by business consultants, McKinsey and Company.

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STEM GCSEs increase in popularity

Data out today accompanying the GCSE results show an increase in the proportion of exam entries for STEM subjects. Unfortunately, there is also a clear gender divide, with non-compulsory STEM subjects remaining more popular with boys than with girls.

Responding to today’s results, CaSE Acting Director, Naomi Weir, said:

Congratulations to those receiving GCSE results today. It is encouraging to see increased uptake in STEM subjects and another dramatic jump in the number of students taking computing in particular.

The results also underline a long established but not widely recognised fact – that girls and boys perform equally well in science and maths subjects. It shouldn’t still have to be highlighted, but there is a persistent, and incorrect, perception in our culture of who is good at maths and physics. It is great that the numbers set the story straight.

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CaSE welcomes new member Arthritis Research UK

20120704_LoT_isolate (00000002)Arthritis Research UK is the leading UK funder of research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. It is the UK’s fourth largest medical research charity and the only charity solely committed to funding high quality research into arthritis. Read More »

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A-level results day: A mixed picture for STEM

A-level results are out today and the stats reveal all three core sciences have seen fewer students enter exams in 2015 despite overall entries rising compared to 2014. Maths however continues to extend its lead as the most popular subject.

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Focus on Light

The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated 2015 as the International Year of Light (IYL2015), creating a great opportunity to mark some historic milestones and celebrate scientific heroes, from Ibn al-Haytham’s early work on optics in 1015 to Charles Kao’s demonstration in 1965 of the transmission of light in optical fibres. Other anniversaries include the publication of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism in 1865 and Einstein’s theory of general relativity in 1915.

Even more importantly, the Year of Light has set some seriously aspirational goals, which we in the UK are playing our part to pursue.

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How many learned societies does it take to tackle antimicrobial resistance?

In our blog post of February 2014 a colleague and I argued that Learned Societies, acting as ‘boundary organisations’, are in a unique position to bring together diverse groups of researchers around a single issue. In doing so, we can facilitate action.

Since then, that’s exactly what we, and our policy colleagues, have been doing; a collaboration of seven learned societies has recently completed a series of multidisciplinary networking workshops aimed at scientists at all career stages from academia, industry and the public sector. The issue: antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

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Summer holidays homework

Summer recess is upon us, which should mean things quieten down and I can find time for that paper on Total Factor Productivity that I’ve been meaning to read for so long. But no, instead we’ve been hit by a barrage of consultations to keep us busy over the holidays. I’ve pulled together all the ones I’ve spotted  that are interesting to the science and engineering community below.

If you know of any more or are able to feed in your views to us on any of the consultations, please do get in touch –

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New analysis shows BIS understates returns for investment in R&D

The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has just published a really insightful new analysis of the relationship between public and private investment in R&D.

The report makes some conclusions that could be very influential in the upcoming Spending Review:

  • BIS may be understating the leverage that occurs from public funding of research. The new analysis suggests that an extra £1 of public investment will give rise to an increase in private funding of between £1.13 and £1.60 (an average of £1.36). The report says BIS currently use an estimate of £0.85 – and may therefore be underestimating the effect of changes in public expenditure on R&D.
  • Maintaining the Science Budget in cash terms has given rise to an estimated additional £1.2bn of private sector investment that would not have occurred if the budget had been cut in line with other government departments.
  • The report estimates that an extra £1 of public expenditure in university research leads to a further 29p of private investment in research in universities and £1.07 in research conducted elsewhere.

The report uses and builds upon research commissioned by CaSE on the economic significance of the UK science base.

The new findings really show the value of investing in R&D. In the upcoming Spending Review the Government will be looking to see where it can get the biggest bang for its buck as it makes difficult spending decisions. This new report gives the Treasury solid economic evidence that investment in R&D leverages private sector investment and drives much-needed economic growth. Crucially, it proves that not cutting the Science Budget was the right thing to do in 2010 and goes further to show that increasing the budget will bring big returns.

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CaSE calls for evidence on impact of immigration on UK science and engineering

Today we’re launching a survey asking for evidence of the the impact of immigration on UK science and engineering, and the effect current Government policy has had on the UK’s ability to attract the best scientists and engineers from around the world. We need your views and experiences to inform our research and recommendations for the Government, which we will be publishing in a full report by the end of the year.

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Recent Round-Up

CaSE has published its July 2015 e-bulletin, giving a summary of all CaSE’s activities and news over the last month. These include:

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Government publishes its productivity plan


The Government today published its plan to raise UK productivity, “Fixing the foundations: creating a more prosperous nation”, as part of the Summer Budget.

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CaSE responds to the Summer Budget


CaSE has today responded to the Chancellor’s Summer Budget

The budget includes a number of new announcements, including measures on maintenance grants, apprenticeship levies and catapult centres, however further questions remain over the timetable of the Spending Review and the science budget in the Autumn. Read More »

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What have we learned from today’s budget?

So the Chancellor has given his much-anticipated all-Conservative Budget. What can the science and engineering community take away from today’s announcements and what do we still not know?

What we already knew

First, what did we already know before George Osborne stood up at the despatch box today? Read More »

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Celebrating National Women in Engineering Day

The British automotive industry is booming. Bouncing back from a low point in the early 2000s, Britain is now the base for more manufacturers than any other European country: mass-market manufacturers, premium car-makers, bus builders and dozens of smaller producers, as well as eight of the 11 Formula One teams.  The UK is one of the world centres of motoring research and development, and attracts billions of pounds in foreign investment every year.

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CaSE welcomes new member BHF

SimonGillespieThe British Heart Foundation (BHF) are the nation’s heart charity and the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research. Read More »

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From niche to norm

A new Parliament brings with it many new MPs. In considering the content of my few remarks for this Tuesday’s Parliamentary Links Day on Science and the new Parliament I took the opportunity to reflect on what it is that the new intake of MPs care about.

Why have they put themselves through the most public of job interviews?

What is it they would like to use their voice and position as an MP to achieve? Read More »

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Addressing the challenges facing physics

I shall be taking up office as president of the Institute of Physics shortly after the organisation’s introduction of a new strategy – a realignment of our aims and our work to better reflect the modern world. So one of the main concerns during my time at the helm will be helping to drive that strategy through.

In particular, a personal priority will be to improve the take-up of physics among women, who historically are drastically under-represented in the UK – only a fifth of physics A-level students, for example, are girls. The IOP already does a lot of excellent work aimed at remedying this, and I’ll be looking at how we can boost those efforts further. Read More »

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