Science policy in Scotland is to be shaped by an independent, expert group, to be formed by The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE). Minister for Enterprise & Lifelong Learning, Wendy Alexander, today announced the creation of the Scottish Science Advisory Committee, a key part of the first ever Scottish Science Strategy, launched today in the Glasgow Science Centre. This is a central element of the science policy framework which sets out a new way forward to foster science in Scotland. The Scottish Science Advisory Committee, which is being set up under the auspices of the RSE, will be a high-powered body created to identify priorities, inform policy in science and technology, and advise Scottish Executive Ministers onissues of scientific importance. The expert committee’s remit has been agreed following consultation between RSE President, Sir William Stewart, and the Scottish Executive, which will fund the work of the committee. The Minister, whose portfolio will include a greater emphasis on Science, will work closely with the President of The RSE. The Committee will monitor progress and advise the Executive on how the Scottish Science Strategy is being implemented across departments.
Speaking today at the launch of The Science Strategy for Scotland, RSE President and former UK Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir William Stewart said:
As President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s National Academy, I warmly welcome the Science Strategy for Scotland, announced by the Minister. This is a positive framework upon which to build. It takes forward, in an innovative way for Scotland, the key recommendations of the Royal Society of London/Royal Society of Edinburgh joint report on Devolution and Science. I welcome the decision to set up the Scottish Science Advisory Committee, under the auspices of the RSE, to focus on local, national, UK, European and global science issues. I applaud the decision to appoint a Chaiperson who will perform the role of chief advisor on science to the Executive. Scotland has a strong science base, but we must not be complacent. Clearly we must work in partnership and focus in particular on areas which give this country competitive edge.
We live in a changing world – and a world that is becoming increasingly dominated – whether we like it or not – by the products and processes of science, engineering and technology. That is being appreciated increasingly by other countries across the world. We must not stand still. The competition is becoming intense. Scotland, as part of the UK and as part of Europe, has to shape its own destiny – no one else will do it for us – and that is why this Science Strategy framework is important and welcome. It is clear that the Minister has consulted widely – listened – and delivered a framework on which to build. This strategy paper is about partnership. Whilst the Minister has delivered a framework, we too, as scientists must also deliver – and play our full part by working positively and together with Government and the people of Scotland to better deliver, through innovation, life-long learning and enterprise, an improved economic and social climate for the people of our country.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh will appoint a Chairperson to the Committee and it is expected that the Chairperson will also act as chief advisor on science to the Executive. The Society will be responsible for selecting the eminent men and women of the Committee. Once appointed, the new committee will be housed in its own part of the George Street offices of RSE.
A public announcement will be made when the Chairperson and membership of the Committee have been decided.
Devolution and Science: Report by a Joint Working Group of The Royal Society of London and The Royal Society of Edinburgh was published in April 1999