Global Research Council agrees way forward on mission-orientated research and public engagement

Global Research Council agrees way forward on mission-orientated research and public engagement

Participants at the 9th Annual Meeting of the Global Research Council (GRC) agreed on a broad range of strategies and actions, including:

  • a set of principles for mission-orientated research and public engagement
  • a renewed approach for responsible research assessment
  • on partnered research programmes and gender disaggregated data

The meeting was co-hosted by the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) during 24 to 28 May 2021.

The GRC participants endorsed statements of principles on the 2021 GRC topics of mission-orientated research and public engagement, which outline common sets of guiding principles and approaches to these topics. This year, an innovative approach of producing case studies on the Statements of Principles has been used in the launch of the first book on mission-oriented research and public engagement.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

“Research and innovation enrich lives, inspire respect for our world and offer powerful tools for addressing the many challenges we are facing, from COVID19 to climate change. “Research and innovation thrive by bringing together new combinations of diverse people, ideas and infrastructures in a culture of openness and mutual respect. The principles formally agreed at this year’s GRC annual meeting show us how we, as funding agencies, can embody diversity, creativity, openness and connectivity in all that we do.”

Speaking at the meeting, NRF CEO Dr Fulufhelo Nelwamondo added that:

“We should use our strong positions in science systems to strengthen collective efforts to re-centre science as a key pillar for modern civilisation, anchored on the core values of openness and accountability. Let us continuously be led by the belief that science is a public good, and from which we can derive disruptive solutions to the multifaceted challenges we face. Let us embolden our collective commitment to supporting and enhancing the borderless nature of scientific enquiry and its impact.”

Towards solution-oriented funding approaches

The discussions by Heads of Research Councils (HORCs) emphasised funding approaches necessary to rapidly develop solutions to challenges, in what-ever contextual environments agencies find themselves. In this regard, the Global Forum of Funders was recognised as a strategic initiative that can contribute to these solution-oriented approaches.

Missions to address today’s global grand challenges

The GRC’s mission-oriented research Statement of Principles outlined some of the considerations that funding agencies can use to collaborate to support and help drive scientific missions that address the global grand challenges faced by society.

The Statement also called for GRC participants to work together on these challenges, whilst recognising the need for national and local priorities, contexts, capabilities and strategies to be integrated into the response.

Science with and for Society

The GRC’s Statement of Principles on public engagement set out a number of principles to ensure that public engagement is a purposeful and meaningful activity, and an effective mechanism for breaking down the barriers between science and society in an increasingly integrated and complex global system.

It recognised that funding agencies are essential actors in their respective knowledge eco-systems. The Statement also emphasised that funding agencies are expected to mediate between science and its many publics.

Fairness and diplomacy

HORCs endorsed a call to action on Responsible Research Assessment to promote a fairer and more diverse global research ecosystem, following the launch of the conference proceedings report on this topic.

This sought to build on the range of discussions and declarations made in recent years by embedding these existing principles and identifying and developing concrete actions to incentivise and fulfill responsible research assessment ambitions. A GRC Working Group was also established to help drive these aims forward.

The GRC Working Groups on Gender, and Partnered Research Programmes launched two seminal products focused on gender disaggregated data and a funder’s guide on implementing partnered research programmes.

Further information

More than 200 delegates participated in the Annual Meeting, led by Heads of Research Councils, and with guests from science and research organisations around the world in attendance, to share best practice and discuss research funding policy issues.

The 10th Annual Meeting will be hosted by Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia tecnología e Innovación (SENACYT), Panama and the National Science Foundation (NSF), USA in Panama City in 2022.

About the GRC

The Global Research Council is a virtual organisation, comprised of the heads of science and engineering funding agencies from around the world, dedicated to promoting the sharing of data and best practices for high-quality collaboration among funding agencies worldwide. The worldwide growth of public support for research has presented an opportunity for countries large and small to work in concert across national borders.  Cooperation and collaboration can enhance the quality of science, avoid unnecessary duplication, provide economies of scale, and address issues that can only be solved by working together.  Research funding agencies have a responsibility to meet these objectives on behalf of the research communities. 
Website: / Twitter: @GRC_Research 

About UK Research and Innovation  

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is the largest public funder of research and innovation in the UK, with a budget of over £8bn. It is composed of seven disciplinary research councils, Innovate UK and Research England.  

We operate across the whole country and work with our many partners in higher education, research organisations businesses, government, and charities.  

Our vision is for an outstanding research and innovation system in the UK that gives everyone the opportunity to contribute and to benefit, enriching lives locally, nationally and internationally.   

Our mission is to convene, catalyse and invest in close collaboration with others to build a thriving, inclusive research and innovation system that connects discovery to prosperity and public good. 

Website:  / Twitter: @UKRI_News 

About the NRF

The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body established in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including humanities, social sciences and indigenous knowledge; supporting and promoting public awareness of, and engagement with, science; and promoting the development and maintenance of the national science system and support of Government priorities, thereby contributing to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans.

Website: | Twitter: @NRF_News | Facebook: @NRFSouthAfrica | LinkedIn: The National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF)

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