Getting robots to do agri-science (or George Osborne’s 8 priorities for science)

This blog post was written by James Lush, the Biochemical Society’s Policy Officer

George Osborne gave a speech at the Royal Society this morning, in which he highlighted eight research prriorities:

1. Data driven discovery
2. Synthetic biology
3. Regenerative medicine
4. Agri-science
5. Energy storage
6. Advanced materials and nanotechnology
7. Robotics
8. Satellites and space

Sarah Castell jokingly suggested that we could kill two birds with one stone:

You can read a transcript of the speech here. I wasn’t there, so my impressions of the juicy part – the Q&A session – have been gleaned from the Twitter feed. The impression one gets from this is that Osborne didn’t really give satisfactory answers to questions on the migrant cap, the 4G campaign and more. It is fairly clear that the Treasury still does not couple sustained investment in science with economic growth, which is why we need to keep making the case for this.

And what if your research has not been deemed a priority? What about investing in people and skills? The government needs to recognise that the it is not enough to fund research; rather the overall basic research system must be protected. As Kieron Flanagan (Lecturer in Science and Technology Policy as the University of Manchester) has argued, “many of the social and economic benefits of research actually stem from the health and dynamism of the ‘system’ and not from the the impacts of specific bits of research.”

P.S. I’ve been writing more at the Biochemical Society blog recently. You can check it out here:

Update: You can now listen to speech and Q&A session here:

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