Newly stepping into a leadership role as director of research and innovation sector strategy at Jisc is pretty daunting but a privilege. Jisc is doing some great work in diversity as an employer as well as in its role as a membership organisation providing digital solutions at the intersection of higher and further education and research.
My new role follows my secondment as research sector strategy lead over the last year, during which through consultation with researchers, research leaders, enablers and managers I coordinated the development of Jisc’s new research and innovation sector strategy 2021-2023. I’ve been working in policy, strategy and above all data and digital, for most of my career, in higher education but also in public sector policy and strategy, and with data locally, regionally and nationally.
I remain Co-investigator and deputy director of a research infrastructure, leading Jisc’s participation in the UK Data Service. In that role, I support the use of a wide range of data resources to facilitate social and economic research, remaining close to the processes of research and knowledge exchange, its funding, management and impact.
My next step is to focus on embedding and iterating the strategy in the development of products and services that will support Jisc members to enhance their research technology and data. Working with a range of sectors is key to why Jisc remains diverse in its perspective. And this is why Jisc’s research and innovation sector strategy places equality, diversity and inclusion as a central strategic priority, and Knowledge Exchange as one of its seven strategic themes for delivery of those priorities.
The priorities result from our engagement and underpin Jisc’s research and innovation sector strategy, acting as guiding principles in support of the activity that we hope to undertake. People, industry and research assets across the UK are well-placed to benefit from and support the delivery of UK government policies focused on growth, the plans for which are covered in HM Treasury’s Build Back Better: Our Plan for Growth strategy.
We have heard from our engagement with colleagues working in the research and innovation sector that in the context of the pandemic there is a massive need for enhanced digital support. We know that the impact of the pandemic on early career women academics and researchers with caring responsibilities poses a significant risk to equality, diversity and inclusion policy gains over the last decades. There is a need to be alert to specific pressures on researchers from minoritised ethnic groups.
There are also opportunities for the development and expansion of online systems to continue to support international research collaborations and in support of net-zero targets. The real opportunity is in helping research systems follow the researcher to address some of these challenges. This is where I hope to help support the sector in thinking through and supporting Jisc colleagues in developing solutions, in partnership.
I’m delighted to take Jisc’s research and innovation strategy forward. Now, more than ever, it’s evident that research and innovation are crucial for the advancement of science across all disciplines and its continued benefit to society and above all equality, diversity and inclusion. This means that we can continue to support research, but also innovation and enterprise, especially as we look to post pandemic environments.
Director of Research and Innovation Sector Strategy, Jisc
Written in celebration of International Women's Day 2021 for the PraxisAuril blog series - Women in Innovation