In an interview with the Guardian, new science minister Ian Pearson has spoken of his aim to change people's perception of science and improve the way the government communicates messages on science. In contrast to Lord Sainsbury who was considered the scientists science minister, Pearson aims to be more focused on the public perception of science. "There are a lot of people who talk about science. But I don't get the impression that the average person on the street really understands the importance of science to our economic future and to our wellbeing. There is more we can do communicate that. This will help us to pull through more kids to do science and technology subjects at A-level and go on to University."
One of Pearson's first jobs will be to respond to The Sainsbury Review, due to report in September or October, which examines the ability of UK science and innovation to meet the challenges of globalisation, publicly funded R&D and international science and technology collaboration. Pearson rejects a suggestion that he is treading water until the report is published.
Following on from the government admitting last week that meeting its target of increasing spending on R&D to 2.5% of GDP by 2010 is a "challenging goal", Pearson is not worried. "On the 2.5% target - let me try to say it politely - I think that aggregare country-level targets when it comes to R&D are very inconvenient, I think that at an economy level this figure is meaningless. Where I am interested in R&D figures is on a sector-by-sector basis: how the R&D in out pharmaceutical sector compares with R&D in Germany and the US."