The Association for University Research and Industry Links, the largest knowledge-transfer practitioner-based association in Europe, is extremely concerned about the planned reduction in knowledge-transfer partnerships and their revised focus.
The changes proposed by the Technology Strategy Board will have a detrimental effect on embedding innovation within business, will harm university-industry relations and undermine the innovation potential of many small and medium-sized enterprises.
By focusing on its priority areas, the board will in effect make many smaller firms ineligible for its knowledge-transfer partnership support programme. That will affect local economies and jobs, especially in regions without large research and development-intensive businesses.
In addition, the higher entry point for companies - full knowledge-transfer partnerships or nothing - will hit those wanting to engage with the academy on a modest, low-cost, low-risk scale. The creative industries are likely to be hit hardest, and they add more to the UK economy than manufacturing (about £6.5 billion a year).
According to the government's KTP Annual Report 2008/09, for every £1 million of state investment in knowledge-transfer partnerships, there is a profit of £3.6 million before tax and 32 jobs created. KTPs offer excellent value for money and pay for themselves very quickly. They are vital to graduate retention and employment and add value.
Knowledge-transfer partnerships are a proven route for businesses to access universities' research, innovation and skills. Reducing their number will impede innovation and growth, just when they are needed most.
Innovation; economic and social impact; business engagement; employment; regional growth agenda; and value for money - are we missing the point somewhere?
Philip Graham, Executive director for Auril, the Association for University Research and Industry Links