Business sense

April 16, 2004

Alison Wolf agrees that universities need more incentives to engage with small local businesses (Opinion, April 9). The question is how such incentives should be distributed.

My proposal is that university departments that can demonstrate strong support from business should qualify for matched funding to support their research efforts, and that regional development agencies are in the best position to judge the level of business support for institutions in their region.

The money would explicitly not be available to create "technological whizz-bangery" or build "world-class regions" from scratch - it would go only to departments that show they can transfer knowledge to industry.

"Not through the RDAs," Ms Wolf proclaims, but she does not say what distribution channel she would prefer - the Department for Trade and Industry? The Higher Education Funding Council for England?

A number of RDAs are already building valuable links between universities and businesses, and they should all be encouraged to do the same.

Richard Lambert
Lambert Review of Business-University Collaboration

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