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Government seeks Council of Science and Technology co-chair

Co-chair will be part of the council that advises the prime minister on science and technology policy issues, including sustainable development, innovation and the UK’s research and science capability

The government is on the hunt for a co-chair of the Council of Science and Technology, which advises the prime minister.

The independent co-chair will join several others, including council chair Patrick Wallace, the government’s chief scientific adviser.

The co-chair’s responsibilities include “charting the course” of the council’s work programme, as well as liaising with government, ministers and officials, and the chief scientific adviser.

The work programme currently includes advising on meeting the government’s objectives for research and development (R&D), using science and technology for a “sustainable health and social care system” and working to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The prime minister’s Council for Science and Technology is the government’s top-level advisory body on science and technology issues,” the job application pack said. “It reports directly to the prime minister on matters of science and technology that cut across the responsibilities of government departments. It is co-chaired by the government chief scientific adviser and an independent appointee.

“The SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) pandemic has highlighted the importance of science and technology in facing a challenge of such epic proportions, and in building a robust, sustainable and equitable recovery plan for the UK, post-Covid.”

According to the job application pack, the government is looking for a senior figure in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

“Individuals must have a track record of outstanding achievement as a researcher or innovator in a science and technology field,” it says. “Individual disciplines are, however, less important than the ability to provide a well-grounded ‘big picture’ perspective on a wide variety of STEM policy issues.”

It is also essential for candidates to have excellent chairing and communication skills, and to be able to handle complex and sensitive issues.

“You may come from a top position in academia, commerce or industry or public service, usually at the level of chief executive, vice-chancellor or equivalent senior leadership role and have the personal stature and credibility to lead and represent a body which advises the prime minister,” the pack said.

The co-chair will replace current independent co-chair Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of Manchester University, who is stepping down from the role next year. Applicants have until 22 November 2020 to apply.

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