Tuesday, December 15, 1998 Published at 16:17 GMT
Government asks public for bioscience views
Also announced was £75 million more for research equipment
The consultation of over 1,000 people was announced by Science Minister Lord Sainsbury after leading scientists met him, the Prime Minister and Peter Mandelson, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, at Downing Street.
The nationwide consultation will be carried out by MORI, using The People's Panel and begins on Tuesday with focus groups. A questionnaire will follow and a report will go to Ministers in May 1999.
The report is intended to help scientists and policy-makers to understand how the public feel - and what they want to know - about developments in bioscience.
The nature of the consultation was developed by the Office of Science and Technology, with substantial assistance from, amongst others, the food giant Sainsbury's, Zeneca, the Green Alliance and the Women's Institute.
Also announced, by Mr Mandelson, was a £75 million boost for university research equipment and a new focus for the government's Foresight programme, which aims to turn Britain's scientific research into business success.
The 1998 award brings the total investment in university research equipment through the Joint Research Equipment Initiative to over £200 million since it began in 1996.
The next round of the Foresight programme will concentrate on building links between business and Britain's excellent knowledge base, said Mr Mandelson.
Its aim is to turn innovative ideas into the commercial successes of tomorrow. It would also examine issues that have an impact on our quality of life, such as the ageing population and crime prevention.
Mr Mandelson was publishing the blueprint for the next round of Foresight, which begins in April 1999. "In the rapidly changing industrial landscape, entrepreneurship and innovation are vital. Foresight promotes both and has already produced outstanding results. The next round must add value to that work." The government's Competitiveness White Paper will be published on Wednesday.
Lord Sainsbury added: "One of the significant achievements of Foresight is in engaging sectors with little or no history of working with the science base, such as financial services and insurance, and promoting collaboration between competitors, such as in mobile communications and food retailing."
The panels for the next round of Foresight are:
The government has already announced a big financial boost for UK science this year. In July, as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review, a further £750m was given to the science budget to be spent over the next three years.
Of that, £300m will go on re-equipping university research laboratories. The rest is to be given to the different research councils to distribute.
The government's current annual science budget stands at £1.349bn.