DFID: Science and innovation strategy

30 September 2005

In September 2005, the Royal Society submitted a response to the Department for International Development's (DFID) consultation on its Science and Innovation Strategy. Our response stressed the need for DFID to ensure that science, engineering, technology and innovation (SET&I) underpin its work and encourage other key international stakeholders to view SET&I as fundamental to their activities.

Summary of recommendations:

  • DFID and the international community should promote SET&I and help demonstrate their link to poverty alleviation and development to decision-makers at the highest level.  
  • Technical assistance to help developing countries make the necessary links between SET&I, national development needs and poverty alleviation should be made available to developing country planners to ensure that SET&I are properly represented in Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS).
  • DFID should aim to support initiatives which will help to build the critical mass of science policy advisors for developing country governments. 
  • Centres of Excellence are needed to enhance scientific capacity in developing countries. We hope DFID and the international community will provide long-term support to centres of excellence and assist with NEPAD's Africa Plan of Action to help establish networks of centres of excellence in its priority areas.
  • The Royal Society encourages DFID to take a holistic approach to education, looking not only at primary, but secondary and tertiary levels as well. 
  • The Royal Society encourages DFID to increase further its in-house SET&I expertise. It will need skilled personnel who can identify, manage, review and scrutinise research effectively under its Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA).  He should be supported by a core multi-disciplinary team of competent SET&I professionals and skilled technologists.
  • The Royal Society would like to see the CSA take control of the DFID research budget and indicate how the £136 million will be spent. This will help to develop coherence on the overall vision for different research areas under the Central Research Department and ensure there are proper linkages to the Science and Innovation Strategy.
  • DFID should create more effective linking systems between development demand and SET&I input.  There should be more integration between DFID research programmes and the country programmes. DFID country offices should also have more involvement in setting the tasks for research in coordination with communities, developing country scientists and country sectors and informing UK research institutions about demand issues.
  • DFID should consider undergoing a review of how SET&I are used and represented across the organisation to ensure effective systems are maintained and resources are not duplicated. The Royal Society would be happy to suggest experts for this task and help to develop a framework for the review.
  • We hope DFID will outline in the Science and Innovation Strategy a long-term strategic plan for research in terms of reorganisation of funds which was not proposed in the Research Funding Framework. 
  • The Royal Society recommends a review to identify the areas where the UK science community holds comparative advantage and outline mechanisms to link these with the work of DFID.

This submission is part of the Society's ongoing capacity building work.