As one of a vanishingly small number of academics with “research policy” in their job title, I could – perhaps fairly – be accused of having a vested interest in making the field seem more central to the beating pulse of British politics than it deserves. But for many years, whenever I found myself in conversation with wonks from other fields, I used to feel faintly apologetic for choosing to focus my energies on the funding, design and evaluation of research systems, over bigger and more pressing global and domestic challenges.
Not anymore. Thanks to Dominic Cummings’ well-publicised obsession with the inner workings of our research and innovation system (best summed up by the tagline of his Whatsapp profile: “Get Brexit done, then Arpa”), these agendas have vaulted up the political pecking order. And whereas in past general elections, it was considered positive to clock even one passing reference to science or research in a party manifesto, the Conservatives’ recent pitch to the nation included over a page of detailed commitments….