The Financial Director David Allen of BIS (Business Innovation and Skills government department) visited BGS last week, along with Graeme Reid who is responsible for research in BIS; Graeme knows us well and thought we would be a good centre for David to visit given our commercial focus. The aim was to show how a Research Council works and what our role is in translation of knowledge into useful information for the private sector and the public.
David was extremely interested by all that he discovered. The focus of the science discussion was on subjects such as shale gas, carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear waste disposal, but also on what we do with groundwater and vulnerability to climate change and how we work overseas. He was keen to discover how we work with universities and also with other government agencies. He recognised the important role of BGS as an independent voice on geological matters and asked some probing questions on how we manage to remain independent while also advising industry consortia.
We visited the rock press where David managed to witness a rock failure under pressure and saw what he referred to as the dating lab at NIGL (I think we must have used this expression) ; he understood the importance of both of these facilities in understanding rock behaviour but also in standardisation to underpin geology.
The visit to the National Geological Repository was especially useful as it happened to be full of consultants working on shale gas cores to prepare the next licensing round. They were all "typical geologists" and carrying hammers and lenses (not that I approve of hammering cores), so he did see and observe the stereotype, that I assured him we are changing.
This is from a slide that I presented to David Allen during his visit.
There may be a certain amount of chest banging, but BGS outputs are excellent...
A world-leading Geological Survey
• 516 scientists; working with more than 40 Universities and institutes
• More than 150 current private sector customers
• Around 20 bespoke science laboratories
• 5 NERC and national science facilities
• The NationalGeoscienceDataBase and Repository
• 93% impact cases in NERC research review recognised as excellent or outstanding
• Internationally leading or better positions in 78% of research areas
• 75% 4 year increase in peer reviewed papers to 245 in 2012;
• >150 items of advice to policy makers in the UK, Europe, and overseas in 2012
• > 300 000 web visits a month
In addition we have about 120 staff that support our science in various ways, such as business development, IT, graphics, communications and administration.
Dave Allen was fascinated. BGS represents a mere £26 million of a more than £16 billion budget, but he saw the economic benefit in spades!