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Poor sense of direction on the road to a knowledge economy

David Secher

Judges for this year’s Lord Stafford Awards for the best Midlands-based business-university collaborations were privileged to see some of the best practice in the UK. In two days, and 450 miles, the judges saw an impressive range of collaborations from small and medium-sized enterprises to multinational companies, and from elite, research-intensive universities to business-facing, post-1992 universities.

As one of the judges, I learnt a great deal about: UK manufacturing—it has NOT all gone to China; the continuing success of knowledge-transfer partnerships; and the richness and diversity of models in this country for innovative business-university collaboration. I saw examples of collaborations revolutionising the way in which small and large companies do business, concrete instances of what the knowledge economy means for UK industry—from small, specialist furniture makers to heavy electrical engineering.

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