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EU Research and Innovation
Dr Nguyen TK Thanh is a Reader in UCL Physics & Astronomy, based at the Davy Faraday Research Laboratory, The Royal Institution. Her research interests are in nanomaterials for biomolecular and biomedical sciences and nanotechnology. She leads a research team focused on the design, synthesis and study of the physical, chemical and biological properties of nanomaterials for clinical applications.
Why were you interested in the UCL Public Policy secondment scheme?
I have been involved with many outreach activities to communicate the science to the public and influence policymakers. In November 2011, I was selected to take part in the Royal Society and Government Office for Science Civil Servant–Scientist Pairing Scheme. I was at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) for two intensive days, which gave some insight into the work of the department. However, I felt that I did not gain sufficient insight and understanding into the operation of the EU and International Innovation Policy scheme, and I was keen to develop this. In particular, I was interested in gaining greater insights into policy for the Research Councils, Technology Strategy Board and for the European Research Council. Therefore, I wanted to take part in the secondment scheme to gain a better understanding of the work of BIS with regard to those organisations.
Where did you undertake your policy secondment?
The International Knowledge & Innovation Unit in BIS.
What did you find most valuable?
It allowed me to learn more about EU funding, which I did not know – it is hard to find the information from very complex websites.
What surprised you most?
The work involves a very different methodology. It is not at all what I used to in scientific research; instead you need to read lots and lots of information; it is not demonstrated in graphs or figures.
What do you think the benefits were to your host organisation?
Apart from me taking part and doing some of the work in a team, I did suggest things to improve the project. I also think it is now more relevant to researchers and to the specific project I am involved with.
How has the secondment changed the way you work?
It hasn't really changed the way I work, but I am better informed and I have a wider view which is the result of having undertaken the secondment.
What would you say to other UCL researchers considering a policy secondment?
It can be hard work as you take on extra responsibility, but it is really worth it. I would want to do it again with different organisations and different aspects that are important to my research.
Thanh undertook a secondment with the EU & International Innovation Policy team at BIS, which included reviewing aspects of the European Framework Programme for Research & Innovation. In particular, BIS were keen to review the support system for potential proposers to EU funding programmes.
Thanh therefore conducted a review of the existing UK support set-up and the development of a support of support system for Horizon 2020 (the next EU Framework Programme), including looking at National Contact Points and Knowledge Transfer Networks for the current Framework Programme (FP7), and stakeholder input for existing and new support systems to ensure they are appropriately responsive to stakeholder needs.
Thanh contributed to the production of a report summarising the types of support and linkages, lessons learnt and best practice, mapping of the current UK FP7 support system, an understanding of the nature of the support provide, and whether this meets the needs of our researchers (business, academia, SMEs etc). She was also able to explore and contribute early thoughts on how the UK support structure could be better aligned and coordinated with Horizon 2020 architecture.
Page last modified on 25 oct 12 12:48