5. Implementation of Mathematical Sciences
Aims and vision
5.1. Our overarching goal within this part of the Academy is to improve the implementation of mathematical sciences in practice, whether that is in business, industry, commerce, charities, government or elsewhere in the public sector. There are several strands to this:
- Promoting and supporting the mathematical scientists who work outside of academia and education, who we are describing as innovators and practitioners.
- Improving the demand for – and supply of – mathematical scientists to increase the application of mathematical sciences in practice.
- Supporting a balanced two-way exchange of knowledge between practitioners and academics alongside the Knowledge Exchange Hub;
- Enabling innovators and practitioners to actively participate in discussions on education in the mathematical sciences (in schools, universities and the workplace) to ensure their perspectives on skills needed in the workplace and for life are heard.
- Providing a forum for innovators and practitioners to raise their voices so they are equally heard on policy relating to the mathematical sciences. Likewise, to find ways for the voice of business, industry, commerce and other organisations that use mathematical sciences and employ mathematical scientists to be heard.
5.2. Our initial set of priorities relate to the goals described in the previous paragraph:
- To support the Policy Unit in showcasing the economic and social value of mathematical sciences to UK society. This spans the ‘obvious’ cases of working within banking, through to the modelling of pandemics, to helping provide care within the community, to supporting UK plc improve the efficiency of its operations, to modelling climate change. At every point in daily life we can show the positive impact of mathematical sciences.
- Identifying the training and support needs of mathematical scientists, as well as skills gaps in the general population and working with fellows from education and academia to suggest solutions.
- Raising the profile and attractiveness of careers in the mathematical sciences, particularly to under-represented groups who may not see the opportunities of a career in this area. These will lead to an increased recognition of the importance of mathematical sciences to a successful economy; government policy that supports better research and education in mathematical sciences; and input into education and funding policies from a wider range of mathematical scientists working outside of academia.
The consultation questions relating to Fellowship (Questions 25 to 27, in Section 10) are relevant to innovators and practitioners too. We are determined that the Academy will have Fellows from all parts of the mathematical sciences community, including teachers and other educators, research, academia, and innovators and practitioners of the mathematical sciences in industry, commerce, government and elsewhere. Excellence is seen in many places in the mathematical sciences. What does “excellence” look like among this part of this community? We will also have Fellows from all fields of mathematical sciences – and a diverse and inclusive Fellowship. How do we best ensure equity, diversity and inclusiveness amongst our Fellows?
5.3 Knowledge exchange is of great importance to both university researchers, and innovators and practitioners in all sectors of the economy and government working at the cutting edge of the mathematical sciences, and was cited in the Bond Review as an important growth area for the community. The Academy will work in combination with the new UK Knowledge Exchange Hub for Mathematical Sciences (KE Hub) to support those working across the inside-outside academia interface, with the aim of increasing the number, breadth and effectiveness of collaborations. An initial piece of work, joint between the KE Hub and the Academy’s Implementation of Mathematical Sciences workstream, is to map out the KE landscape in the UK and make this publicly available, providing a key resource for organisations wishing to partner with universities and vice versa.
5.4 The Green Paper consultation on the Academy was accompanied by a simultaneous consultation on the Connected Centres Network (CCN), now known as the UK Knowledge Exchange Hub in Mathematical Sciences (KE Hub). The KE Hub and Academy are being pursued as separate projects in this development stage.They are continuing in parallel but with close working, and with linkages of people and activities to ensure that they are mutually reinforcing. For example, the KE Hub Exec includes Professor Christine Currie, who leads the Academy’s Implementation of Mathematical Sciences workstream – and the Academy Executive Committee likewise has representation from the KE Hub. The KE Hub’s Scientific Director is Professor Chris Breward (who started on 1 April 2023) and its Knowledge Exchange Manager is Rachael Harris.
5.5 The KE Hub’s long-term aims are:
- To scale up massively KE activity in the UK, leveraging the experience of the mathematical sciences national infrastructure.
- Connect together researchers, practitioners, end-users, and professionals into forums which interface with the various activities.
- Support existing KE activity in the community whilst growing the network by nurturing untapped pools of researchers, practitioners, and end users.
- Deliver activities through linked projects overseen by the executive team.
- Coordinate support for mathematical science KE projects from beginning to end.
5.6 The KE Hub’s initial activities will include:
- Establishing a KE Champions’ Congress.
- Offering seed funding for some KE activities
- Providing easy-to-access signposting of opportunities to engage in KE activities, in order to benefit Mathematical Sciences departments across the UK.
5.7. One of the issues raised was about the future relationship between the KE Hub and the Academy, after the current initial 18-month area of work. By October 2024, we anticipate that the KE Hub will have successfully launched and completed its initial actions and that we will have had a Go/No-Go decision on the Academy. If there is a positive Go decision, the Academy would launch in early 2025. At that point, one possibility is that the KE Hub would become part of the Academy, while retaining its brand, and be responsible for the KE elements of the Academy. That is all for later decisions – but it is what the Academy (and the KE Hub) currently envisage as one of the likely ways forward.
Q9. What can we do now, as a proto-Academy, to increase awareness of the Academy amongst mathematical scientists working in all sectors of the community and encourage them to engage with the Academy and influence its activities and direction?
Q10. One of the attractions of an Academy is it can facilitate the education, academic and practice sectors working together. What do you see as the most effective model for sharing expertise between these different sectors to improve the implementation of mathematical sciences in all areas of the economy?