Innogen at Science and the Parliament event

2 December 2022

On the 23rd of November, Theo Papaioannou, Monica Hoyos Flight and Joyce Tait attended the 22nd annual Science and the Parliament conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh. The event organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) is designed to foster close relations with policymakers and key stakeholders.

This year’s event focussed on the theme of innovation and was an excellent opportunity to showcase Innogen’s latest research, public engagement and policy work in the exhibition space.

Professor Gill Reid, President of the RSC, opened proceedings highlighting the importance of connecting science and government policy to ensure innovative small and medium-sized enterprises can access investment, equipment and skills. Her welcoming address was followed by the first keynote speech from Ivan McKee MSP, Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise in the Scottish Government. He outlined Holyrood’s plans for a new innovation strategy that will focus on ‘opportunity sectors’ and translating academic excellence into economic success.

The first panel discussion, hosted by Professor Sarah Skerratt, CEO at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, explored the societal impacts of innovation and public attitudes to government spending on Research and Development (R&D). Questions from the audience made clear the need to consider the social and environmental aspects of innovation as well as the economic ones.

The second panel discussion chaired by former BBC Scotland journalist Ken Macdonald, brought together five MSPs from different parties, including Clare Adamson, SNP, and former Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie. They were each asked why they thought innovation is important and what needs to be done to support a better innovation ecosystem. Long-term investment in R&D and STEM education were seen as key to retain industry, tackle the climate emergency and improve Scotland’s productivity.

Next, Dr Susie Mitchell, the programme director for Glasgow City of Science and Innovation (GCoSI), and Professor Julie Fitzpatrick, the chief scientific advisor for Scotland, gave keynote speeches on STEM initiatives and opportunities in the country.

Glasgow is the UK’s second most innovative city. Dr Mitchell explained how by connecting innovation-ready businesses to academia, government, and investors, GCoSI is developing new solutions that will build a stronger and more inclusive economy.

Professor Fitzpatrick works closely with the Scottish Science Advisory Council to help ensure access to the best scientific advice to inform work across all policy areas. She also highlighted Scotland’s potential to be one of the more productive and innovative small countries in the world.

The day ended with the presentation of prizes to young people in recognition of their scientific achievements and a networking buffet.

The RSC’s Science and the Parliament event in Edinburgh was a great opportunity to exhibit our research and chat to scientists and policy makers about innovation and socioeconomic progress,” said Theo Papaioannou, Director of Innogen & Professor of Politics, Innovation and Development at The Open University.