University research a key element for economic recovery

17 July 2020 | Muriel Cozier

Academia and government align to secure economic and social benefits from research

Research England is providing £1.5 million in grants to support two programmes aimed at dramatically increasing the economic value and social impacts derived from university research. The funds will be administered by the University of Cambridge.

The programmes receiving the Research England Development (RED) Fund support are TenU and the Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI). The two groups will work closely in areas of mutual interest.

TenU will share expertise and experience to develop, improve and disseminate best practice in research commercialisation. Bringing together the heads of the world’s leading technology transfer offices (TTO) from ten of the top universities in the UK, US and Belgium, they share and develop improved approaches to commercialising university research for societal and economic benefit. The ten universities, which include Cambridge (UK), Leuven (Belgium) and Stanford (US) have led on many world changing innovations.

UCI, which is a new unit, will carry out research to create the evidence base for informing research commercialisation policy for government and universities. UCI will be hosted by the University of Cambridge in the Department of Engineering. The unit will help to drive a step change in universities’ contributions to delivering increased R&D and innovation in the UK.

UCI will be developed in partnership with the Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (CSTI) and the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB). It will create much needed capacity in the UK to support the needs of UK government departments, funding agencies and universities for better data, evidence and expert insights, to develop more effective approaches for university commercialisation and innovation.

Working closely with key stakeholders, UCI will initially focus on three areas:

  • Developing an evidence base on how the Covid-19 induced economic crisis is affecting universities’ abilities to contribute to innovation and indentify possible actions to ensure they are able to play a strategic and active role in the national economic recovery
  • Improving understanding of the research-to-innovation commercialisation journeys and examine how policies and university practices could be strengthened to deliver increased value to the UK.
  • Advancing the data and metrics available to better capture the performance of universities and delivering economic and social impacts through their commercialisation activities to facilitate more effective benchmarking and evaluation of performance.

David Sweeny, Executive Chair, Research England said ‘In line with the UK Government’s R&D Roadmap, Research England, as part of the UK Research and Innovation, needs to demonstrate we are world class at securing economic and social benefits from research. University technology transfer is at the heart of that. Research England funding for TenU will help showcase best practice at the global cutting edge, with the new UCI policy unit providing critical evidence and metrics.’

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