Go back

Taskforce to investigate economic impact of university research

The Council for Industry and Higher Education and the UK-Innovation Research Centre have launched a taskforce to investigate how the UK can monetise publicly funded research.

“We’ve set ourselves an exam question: How do we deepen understanding of the value of the research base in the UK and then enhance it?” said David Eyton, co-chair of the taskforce and group head of research and technology at BP, in a statement on 10 July

The taskforce—which will investigate the question through research reviews, workshops, online collaboration channels, and interviews with UK innovators—aims to present its recommendations to the government next July.

Philip Graham, executive director of Association for University Research and Industry Links, which is not represented on the taskforce’s steering committee, told Research Fortnight that he welcomes “any initiative to bring universities and university partnerships together”.

However, he added, he would have preferred to see more representation of actual knowledge-transfer practitioners in the committee.

David Secher, past chairman and director of PraxisUnico, told Research Fortnight that he was positive that the organisation would have an input to the committee’s work:

“As the representative body of the professionals who turn research into business I am sure that PraxisUnico, which enjoys excellent relations with both CIHE and UK-IRC, will be represented on, or will work closely with, the new task force,” he said.

University representatives on the group’s steering committee include Leszek Borysiewicz, vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge; Julia King, vice-chancellor of the University of Aston; David Sweeney, director of research at the Higher Education Funding Council for England; Malcolm Grant, president and provost of University College London; Pat Loughrey, rector of Goldsmiths; and Tim Wilson, former vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire.

Other members are David Sainsbury, a House of Lords peer; Iain Gray, CEO of the Technology Strategy Board; Hermann Hauser, partner of Amadeus Capital Partners; Ric Parker, director of research at Rolls-Royce; Phil Smith, chief executive of Cisco UK and Ireland; Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC; and Patrick Vallance, SVP medicines discovery & development at GSK.

“The UK faces increasing competition from countries where investment in research is growing. We must ensure that we maximise the impact of research that takes place in the UK and that we understand how to facilitate effective partnerships between industry and higher education,” commented Shirley Pearce, co-chair of the taskforce and vice-chancellor of Loughborough University.