Best and brightest from UK science, engineering and tech to join DSIT under new Expert Exchange


JUST TWO months after the creation of the Department, the first science, engineering and technology experts have accepted placements on the new Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) secondment scheme.

The Expert Exchange has been set up to overhaul the way secondees are brought into Government, in order to bring cutting-edge expertise from UK academia and industry to drive momentum on some of the most important research and technologies of the future, from quantum and data science to semiconductors and life sciences. It also aims to cement the links between the science, tech and research sectors, and Government, as the secondees gain first-hand experience of working within a Government department on placements of up to 9 months.

The secondments support DSIT’s core mission, to put the full might of the UK Government behind science, innovation and technology in order to foster the growth of future industries, and ultimately improve the lives of every citizen.

Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan said:

“Since my appointment to lead this Department I have been crystal clear that in order to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower, we need to leverage the insight of the UK’s world-leading science and technology sectors, including ensuring that the best talent within these areas is behind our mission.

“So as well as being a first milestone, today marks the start of the UK’s finest minds joining us through the Expert Exchange and bringing their expertise to evolve and expand exciting innovations in science and technology. I hope that this new approach will bolster collaboration between the government, industry and experts.”

The Expert Exchange builds on the objectives of the Science and Technology Framework, the Government’s plan to cement the UK’s place as a science and technology superpower by 2030. In particular, these secondments will support the Framework’s objectives to build on the UK’s already enviable talent and skills base, and to create a pro-innovation culture throughout the public sector.

Initially working with the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to identify high performing, mid-career academics and engineers, the Expert Exchange will embed science and tech sector experts into DSIT policy teams for up to nine months at a time. As well as contributing their skills and knowledge to the policymaking process, they will make a valuable cultural contribution to the Department, as part of the ambition for DSIT to be a modern, agile organisation that reflects the sectors it seeks to champion.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“The Academy is delighted to support the Expert Exchange. Technology and engineering have the potential to impact every part of government policy and delivery, so it is vital that government can access the expertise it needs and that engineers develop their understanding of how to engage with policymakers.

“By bringing engineers into the heart of the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, the government is demonstrating its commitment to advancing the pro-innovation policies that will be essential for the UK to thrive and to help tackle global challenges.”

More secondees are expected to join the Department through the year, with work ongoing to bring in experts from industry as well as academia. Officials are also exploring whether the secondments could become a two-way process, with DSIT civil servants potentially undertaking placements in academia or industry to gain a deeper understanding of the sectors they set policy for.

The Department is also working with the Government Science & Engineering Profession on the STEM Futures Programme which brings together a partnership of organisations from across industry, academia and the public sector to create science and engineering interchange opportunities through networks, mentoring, and secondments. 

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