Impact of university & business research collaboration in UK

A new report – “Absorbing Research: The role of university research in business and market innovation” -has been published by the CIHE (Council for Industry and Higher Education). The report,  sponsored by RCUK, draws on 22 case studies and recommends a variety of ways in which RCUK can help to support and promote collaboration between academic researchers and business. There are proposals for incorporating the development of  ‘commercial skills’ into the career progression of early career researchers, as well as for using financial incentives to encourage collaboration between business and university researchers.  The report sees the development of the impact factor in research funding as important, but recommends that the funding councils should go beyond ‘issuing guidelines about impact’ and proposes the ‘Research Councils should support the experiential learning of different ways of developing different pathways to impact’. From analysis of the case studies and company workshops, the report also draws a list of ‘enabling’ and ‘limiting’ factors. For example, businesses can find the academic research pace slower than the commercial, and the quest for ‘results which are both robust and repeatable’  can ‘sometimes be incompatible with commercial objectives, where an “80%” solution may suffice’. On the other hand, there was an appreciation for the greater objectivity of university researchers, and a belief that ‘leading edge research’ is only to be found in universities. The report, which RCUK considers to be in line with its own support for ‘excellent research that attracts business and industry from around the world’ is available from the CIHE website.

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