Science stays at the top in BIS

CaSE has welcomed the appointment of Prof Adrian Smith as the new Director General for Knowledge and Innovation (DG-KI) at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills – the department responsible for the Science Budget.

The appointment comes after concern that, for the first time in decades, the position responsible for overseeing government activity on science was likely to go to a career civil servant with no direct experience of the science and engineering sector.

Imran Khan, Director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said:

“Having an individual of Prof Smith’s calibre and background at the top level in Whitehall is essential. It’s really encouraging that government have recognised the importance of having someone who understands the research sector in charge of science at BIS.”

Prof Smith’s previous position, Director General for Science and Research (DG-SR), has been abolished and replaced with the new DG-KI position. This post was only advertised internally, and it was thought to be unlikely that Prof Smith would be selected.

It emerged that the Government Chief Scientist, Prof Sir John Beddington, had not been consulted over the changes – Beddington commented that it was “extremely regrettable” and “surprising” that the reorganisation had not been discussed with him.

  • CaSE registered its deep concern over the lack of consultation –
  • The House of Lords Science & Tech Select Committee wrote to David Cameron –
  • The House of Commons Science & Tech Select Committee wrote to Vince Cable –
  • The Shadow Business Secretary, John Denham MP, wrote to Vince Cable –
  • A number of MPs from all sides of the Commons also raised this issue with BIS, including Chi Onwurah MP –

All these parties will be relieved that their concerted pressure has resulted in a positive result for science and engineering.



1.       CaSE is the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the leading advocate for the scientific and engineering health of the UK. More details here:

2.       The Government’s press release is here:

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  • […] scientific backgrounds from a key administrative post.  Thankfully, that has been averted.  The Coalition government will keep Professor Adrian Smith in the newly created position of Director General, Knowledge and Innovation.  Smith is currently […]

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