New Engagement Process Codifying the Roles & Responsibilities of Industry

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Industry knowledge, private sector innovation  and science advice to government: Toulouse 9 July

The International Network for Government Science Advice (INGSA) involves more than 5000 practitioners, policy makers, academics and other interested parties focused on enhancing the role of evidence in impacting on policy at all levels of governance from local to international. It is active in over 90 countries including all the major developed economies. It is well recognised as an influential thought leader and is heavily engaged in capacity building on all continents at this interface. More information can be found at INGSA largely operates through capacity building workshops, promoting policy research, producing influential discussion papers and direct interactions with governments and international agencies.

On Monday 9th July, INGSA is partnering with Brussels-based, SciCom – Making Sense of Science to architect a summit-style workshop hosted by the Chamber of Commerce & Innovation of Toulouse as a curtain-raiser to ESOF 2018. This initiative will inform ongoing discourse as INGSA prepares a report on this complex and important topic. The major purpose of this workshop is to hear from the private sector. A small number of senior and experienced members of INGSA who have practitioner experience both in industry and at the science-policy interface at the highest levels of government will join with private sector attendees from the Haute Garrone region and abroad.

The private sector is the major source of much of global R&D and drives much technological and other innovation. Therefore public policy needs to have a close interaction with the private sector, particularly given the pace of growth in scientific knowledge  and technological innovation. However this interaction is not straight forward – there are obviously different incentives and interests in play for different stakeholders, and issues of trust and social acceptance of commercially-sourced knowledge especially in some fields. There are also issues of ethics, transparency and bias: yet the knowledge and expertise of the private sector is critical. The issues of trust in private sector research have been challenged by events such as the diesel emmissions scandal. Beyond that, companies can lose standing because of the ways they conduct and promote their science (eg infant formula, genetic modification) and there are many past issues (eg tobacco companies). The consequence is that private sector researchers can be excluded from important fora, publications and grant processes. And there can be reflexive distrust of the validity of private sector research. This is a concerning situation as private sector research is critical to global progress. Logic tells us that bans simply do not work. 

In a world where trust in institutions and experts is under threat and reliable and unreliable knowledge are not easily distinguished, the need to fund better and trusted ways to use private sector knowledge becomes even more important. Policy making is increasingly having to confront this interface and a set of principles furthering the work already done by the Brussels Declaration 2016 to underpin the relationship betwen private sector derived evidence and policy making is of great importance.

INGSA is committed to exploring this issue without preconception and together with SciCom we welcome the particpation of industry CSOs and CTOs in discussion under Chatham House Rules. In the coming months, we will equally engage and seek the inputs of all science & society stakeholders.

Sir Peter Gluckman ONZ KNZM FMedSci FRSNZ FRS, Chair, INGSA   

Aidan Gilligan, CEO, SciCom & Consultation Event Organiser