Dame Ann Dowling DBE FREng FRS has now published her Review of Business-University Research Collaboration, to which the Engineering Professors’ Council was one of very many contributors from across industry and academia.
In it, she says that “it is clear that the UK has played host to many successful business-university collaborations but that….the UK is not reaping the full potential provided by the opportunity to connect innovative businesses — from the UK and overseas — with the excellence in the UK’s academic research base. Government has a crucial role in fostering the conditions under which these collaborations can happen at scale and deliver enduring impacts for all parties involved“.
Dame Ann underlined particularly, the importance of people and providing support throughout an academic career.
“It is vital that research students in appropriate disciplines spend some time in industry in order to get a new perspective on their own research, expand knowledge, and build relationships. They should also receive training, particularly around entrepreneurship. People are at the heart of collaboration and the review recommends an incentive framework for universities and businesses to promote the transfer of ideas and people between business and academia. This includes supporting students to develop business awareness at an early stage of their research careers and recognising researchers who are successful collaborators in terms of career progression and research assessment”.
The key messages are:
1. Public support for the innovation system is too complex.
2. People are central to successful collaborations.
2. Effective brokerage is crucial, particularly for SMEs, and continued support is needed for activities that help seed collaborations.
3. Pump-prime funding would stimulate the development of high quality research collaborations with critical mass and sustainability.
4. Technology transfer offices need to prioritise knowledge exchange over short-term income generation, and further work is required to improve approaches to contracts and IP agreements
5. Government strategy on innovation needs to be better coordinated and have greater visibility.
See also the EPC’s recent briefing paper “Ingenious Resilience messages for a new Government” showcasing successful examples of university-industry collaboration and underlining the importance of local, regional and national public funding support.