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BIS wants to know if research council priorities should align with government

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has published a call for evidence that includes a question on how closely research council objectives should be aligned with those of government.

The call, which was issued on 6 February, forms part of BIS’s triennial review of research councils, announced by science minister David Willetts on 9 January.

The review will be looking at the structure and governance of the research councils, their relationships with other funders, with those they fund, and the wider public.

The call also asks whether seven research councils is the right number, and whether the current disciplinary divisions between the councils are appropriate for achieving excellence and innovation.

Other questions that BIS has asked include: How effective are the research councils at delivering their objectives; to what extent are functions duplicated between councils, and how effective are the councils “at challenging the status quo”.

Evidence is sought on how well the research councils’ funding mechanisms are understood, whether these mechanisms are sufficiently open to a range of institutions, and how well research council funding works alongside institution block grants.

Questions on economic impact include how effective is the UK at attracting private investment and how easy is it for businesses to access the research base.

The review will be in two stages. The first will consider the core functions of the councils. If this stage concludes that the councils should remain as non-departmental public bodies, the second stage will examine their corporate governance arrangements.

Responses are due by 28 February. A BIS statement says evidence is invited from “any party with an interest”.