No-one can predict, with certainty, the future trajectories or genomics, material science, artificial intelligence or the internet, but there is little doubt that advances in science and technology will continue to transform the way we live, create new industries, and help us to tackle social and environmental problems. This makes designing effective policies and institutions for science and technology a priority for governments worldwide. The challenge is not just to advance science and technology but to set directions and priorities for their development. At the same time, scientific advice and evidence to inform public policies is in high demand. From climate change to cyber-security, food technologies to fracking, controversies continue to erupt at the boundaries between science, politics and society.