The Nurse Review

The Debate

After the formal presentations, the speakers joined a panel and answered questions put to them by the audience. Topics included: discovery and applied science; strategic partnerships; linking to other parts of the research landscape; national challenges; and mapping the landscape.

Discovery science must interact with applied science but there are differences in research approaches between the two. While some areas require a top-down approach, others benefit from a bottom-up approach. These issues are more complex than simply identifying market needs: we must ensure that the entire spectrum of research works together. This does however need to recognise the importance of both commonalities and differences in research approaches.

There are increasing strategic partnerships between PSREs and universities. They benefit PSREs by having valuable wisdom and discussions on reproducibility in scientific research. By sharing knowledge about these efforts more widely, it can cut down the amount of fundamental research that is often repeated by industries, particularly in the life sciences sector.

It is eminently sensible for institutes of all kinds to be linked to universities and larger industrial organisations like Rolls Royce. But there needs to be a more strategic approach. Co-location is desirable in terms of building critical mass. Maintenance of common quality standards is very important.

The UK is capable of bringing a range of different resources together on national challenges. The National Quantum Technology Programme brought together Research Councils, Government organisations and PSREs. It has proved a case study in how this kind of initiative can be made to work.

It is very important to identify and map the web of existing organisations and resources. Currently, this is missing. Without accurate data and information, it is difficult to develop effective policies. It is not a matter of a once-and-for-all benchmarking exercise, regular mapping should be conducted in order to track progress. This would seem to be a very suitable exercise for UKRI to facilitate. The vital importance of accurate data, extensive knowledge, and in-depth understanding to informed policy-making were emphasised by several contributors.

The role of universities in regional growth highlights that most universities aim to contribute to their communities. The importance of long-term funding for stability and scientific advancement was stressed, while it is also necessary for efficient and effective use of scarce resources to guard against funding different groups for the same research aims.