Lambert plays Cinders

December 24, 2004

Your leader makes the point that a year after the Lambert report, little has changed to aid "third stream" projects in universities ("Third stream is not third class", December 10) CMU was under the impression that the Government intended to implement the report's recommendations, at least in part, through the English regional development agencies, particularly in relation to the funding stream for university-business research (recommendation 6.2).

In spite of repeated inquiry, we have failed to receive any assurances as to how,other than by setting targets for RDAs, the intentions of Lambert 6.2 would be realised or how any kind of national perspective might be retained.

Worse still, it has transpired that the RDAs have not been allocated a specific stream of funding but are being required by the Treasury to fund university-business collaboration from their general RDA "pot" of monies.

As a result, RDAs appear to be seeking to identify regional business-higher education needs that demonstrate university-business "collaboration".

This strategy, together with the Government's promotion of the merits of the Northern Way initiative, cannot disguise the fact that RDAs are well known to have very different capacities and funds. They also display a worrying lack of understanding of third-stream activity.

This was not what Lambert 6.2 was about. Both Lambert and CMU provided ministers with excellent examples of research-business collaboration of benefit to Britain plc and to the Government's agenda of regional regeneration. The principle of a specific stream of funding and its mechanisms for delivery need to be revisited if Lambert 6.2 is not simply to be yet another Cinderella recommendation turned into a pumpkin in favour of a Cabinet wish-list of strategic subjects.

Pam Tatlow
Chief executive
CMU

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