Government announces funding to support creation of a new National Academy focused on Mathematical Sciences

22 November 2023

We are delighted by the announcement in today’s Autumn Statement of Government “support to establish a National Academy focused on mathematical sciences”, including “up to £6m of seed funding over the next three years, subject to business case”.


The mathematical sciences – which include the disciplines of mathematics, operational research, statistics and data science – underpins hundreds of billions of pounds of economic activity a year. The UK has long been a mathematical research powerhouse, with six Fields Medallists, world leading universities and a rich history of innovation. But the potential of UK mathematical science has been hampered by fragmentation between different parts of the mathematical community, and between academics, teachers, policymakers and industry.

The new Academy will transform this landscape, bringing together a unified community of mathematical scientists that spans education, academia, industry and the public sector. The creation of an Academy for the Mathematical Sciences to act as the coordinating focal point for the community was a key recommendation of the 2018 Bond Review.

Ever since then, various mathematical groups and individual mathematicians in the UK, coordinated by the Council for Mathematical Sciences (CMS), have been working to develop what such an Academy might look like – akin to the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) or the Academy of Medical Sciences (AcMedSci).

We have been working for the last year in set up phase as a ‘proto Academy’ to define in more detail the plans for the full institution. We have consulted widely across the mathematical sciences community and are pleased to have had such a positive reaction to our proposals from individual respondents, as well as the CMS and its five Learned Societies.

We look forward to enthusiastically participating in the call for funds and accompanying business case work announced by the government today.

As part of that, we expect to continue to build on the support from a wide range of stakeholders – including the CMS and its five Learned Societies; the Joint Mathematical Council; and other National Academies, including the Royal Society and its Advisory Committee on Mathematics Education – to ensure that we can make the best possible case for a unified academy for the mathematical sciences, and the benefits that this will bring for the UK.


Quotes

Professor Alison Etheridge, Chair of the Council of Mathematical Sciences, said:

We are delighted that the government also wants to see the creation of a new National Academy to cover mathematical sciences, and announced funding of up to £6m to support it. The CMS (Council of Mathematical Sciences) gives strong support for the creation of such an Academy, recognising the important role it will play in the mathematical sciences community and the benefits to the economy and society that it will bring. We are ready to work closely with the government during the business case phase to ensure that these benefits can be fully realised.

Professor Rachel Bearon, Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Liverpool, said:

“This is a wonderful announcement which will turbocharge the efforts already underway to bring together mathematical scientists from across academia, industry, government, and education to the benefit of all. I look forward to helping shape the next stage of work to define how the Academy will operate.”

Professor Cathy Hobbs, Professor of Mathematics, University of Bristol, and Chair of the Heilbronn Institute for Mathematical Research, said:

“It has never been more important to recognise the contribution that mathematical sciences make to everyday life. I welcome the Prime Minister’s support for this area and I am delighted to see the government backing plans for a full Academy for the Mathematical Sciences. Together, we can ensure that more people than ever before can be supported by the contribution that mathematical sciences can make.”

Lynne McClure OBE, Head of Mathematics Solutions, Cambridge Partnership for Education, University of Cambridge, said:

“The Academy for the Mathematical Sciences offers a wonderful opportunity for the mathematics education community to work in partnership with, and both inform and benefit from, the academic, government and industry expertise that will co-exist in this new organisation. With mathematics education very much a current focus, this is a most timely announcement!”

Nigel Campbell, Chair of the Executive Committee, Academy for the Mathematical Sciences, said:

“As Chair of the proto-Academy, I pay tribute to all the people who have supported developments to date, including the over 75 volunteers on the proto-Academy’s Executive Committee and Advisory Board who have worked so hard to bring this about; to everyone across the mathematical sciences community who has responded to successive consultations and contributed in myriad other ways; to our partners in the Learned Societies, CMS, the Royal Society and Joint Mathematical Council, and to the staff of the proto-Academy. I am extremely excited about the next stage of bringing a new national Academy into being with up to £6 million funding that the government has announced.”

Dr Christie Marr, Executive Director, Academy for the Mathematical Sciences, said:

“I welcome today’s exciting announcement of the government’s commitment to establish an Academy for the Mathematical Sciences. This funding marks a crucial milestone in our journey to create a national institution that will amplify the impact and benefit of mathematical sciences on society.”


Background Notes

  1. Our organisation, the Academy of Mathematical Sciences (AcadMathSci), was formed a year ago, as a result of work published in 2021 and 2022 by the Council of Mathematical Sciences, with a view to creating a plan for a full and new National Academy for the discipline. In the Green Paper from the CMS working group, the Academy’s mission was described as “to bring together the subjects’ diverse voices from pure mathematics through industrial and applied mathematics to statistics and operational research, from academic scholars and teachers of mathematics to practitioners outside academia who use mathematics in their work. [It] will provide a single voice, with opportunities for interaction and parity of recognition afforded to all.”
  2. The initial proposal for the creation of an Academy of Mathematical Sciences came as a key recommendation of the 2018 Bond Review “The Era of Mathematics”. This can be found here. Further developments and background information as to the history of the plan for an Academy can be seen here.
  3. The ‘proto Academy’ is hosted by the Isaac Newton Institute of the Mathematical Sciences (INI) at the University of Cambridge and funded from an EPSRC grant to INI. It is supported by a small professional staff, as well as a voluntary executive committee and advisory board. The Academy is also a registered charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) with a purpose to “promote and support the mathematical sciences for the public benefit”. More details of the governance arrangements and the set up during ‘proto Academy’ phase can be found here including a full list of its executive committee, advisory board members, and trustees.
  4. The proto Academy ran a consultation on its proposed approach, seeking views of the community to inform and shape next steps and to identify initial priorities for the Academy’s activities. The consultation process ran between 26 April and 30 June 2023. Details of the consultation document and events can be seen here.
  5. The Council of Mathematical Sciences is an authoritative and objective body that exists to develop, influence and respond to UK policy issues that affect the mathematical sciences in higher education and research, and therefore the UK economy and society in general. It was established in 2001 by three Learned Societies – the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA); the London Mathematical Society (LMS); and the Royal Statistical Society (RSS) – and in 2008 was also joined by two further Learned Societies – the Edinburgh Mathematical Society and the Operational Research Society. Further details can be found here.
  6. In 2013, Deloitte undertook work to calculate the value of the economic benefits of Mathematical Science Research in the UK. This concluded that, in 2010, the contribution of mathematical science research was around 2.8 million jobs (around 10% of all jobs in the UK) and £208billion in terms of GVA (around 16% of total UK GVA). The report can be seen here.
  7. The Autumn Statement said in para 5.136: “National Academy for mathematical sciences – The government will support the establishment of a National Academy focused on Mathematical Sciences.”
  8. The Government’s response to the “Independent Review of the UK’s Research, Development and Innovation Organisational Landscape”, commonly known as the Nurse review, also published today, commits that, “The government will support the creation of a National Academy focussed on mathematical sciences, engaging key stakeholders in the mathematical community on the best way to do so. As part of our commitment to supporting this work, we are willing to back this initiative with up to £6m of seed funding over the next three years, subject to business case.” (page 15 of this document)