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John Innes Centre takes forward the six principles identified in public dialogue

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The final report of the public dialogue on the John Innes (JIC) Science Strategy  for 2017-22 was published in December 2015, together with a statement from JIC that they would “adopt all six [principles] in its future science strategy” (JIC press release 10 December 2015).

The six principles  - the areas on which the participants wanted to see JIC focus when taking future strategic decisions - are:

1.   Preserve the right to do basic, curiosity-driven research which may not necessarily lead to immediate tangible benefits.

2.   Prioritise research with the greatest scope to tackle the most serious, high impact, wide-ranging problems of the world, in order to create research of best value to society and the best use of taxpayer-funded grants.

3.   Demonstrate that JIC has investigated who stands to gain from any benefits of the research, and the context of the research. Participants wanted JIC to demonstrate that it had made research choices which are transparent and fair, and that it has counterbalanced any vested interest.

4.  Use public money to address areas of research commercial interests won’t (for example if there is a low probability that research will lead to the development of a commercially available product)

5.  Maintain flexibility by recruiting the ‘best and brightest’ to ensure diverse, creative, high quality research.

6.  Plan in some flexibility by retaining some resources for ‘the unforeseen’.

The Director of the Institute, Professor Dale Sanders, said:

“Our programme of public dialogue has been extremely successful and has given us some clear guidance for the future. These principles, along with the positive effect that the dialogue has had on us as an institute and the backdrop of a protected science budget, sets us on a good trajectory to build on our successes for the challenges ahead”

The dialogue was commissioned by the JIC and the the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), with support from Sciencewise. The dialogue was designed to inform the JIC Science Strategy and also a new governance framework and initiatives to support and encourage public dialogue in JIC in future. The question put to the public participants in the dialogue was ‘How should JIC meet the challenges of the future when it comes to food and medicine?’.

JIC Press Release: ‘Dialogue shows strong support for curiosity-led research’, 10 December 2015.

Public Dialogue to Inform Science Strategy. Report for the John Innes Centre. Ipsos MORI, October 2015.

See related project page: Public dialogue to inform John Innes Centre Science Strategy 2017-2022