BIS committee launches inquiry into university-business links

A cross-party group of MPs has launched a new inquiry into university-business collaboration. 

March 21, 2014

MPs from the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee will look at evidence from academia and industry about the strengths and weaknesses of their collaborations and how competitive these links are compared with other countries.

The committee held a one-off session in January to hear about university-business links from academics involved the UK’s first Fraunhofer Centre at the University of Strathclyde.

Fraunhofer centres are based on a German model for applied technology institutions that offer research and development services to industry.

The new call for evidence seeks written submissions about how well government initiatives support academic-industry partnerships.

Areas the MPs are interested in finding out more about include the Catapult Centres, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, Higher Education Innovation Fund, Local Enterprise Partnerships and University Enterprise Zones.

The MPs are also keen to hear about the effect of the newly introduced impact criteria in the research assessment framework, and whether the weighting given to impact should be increased in future assessments.

The announcement comes shortly after ministers commissioned a review of the future of the Catapult Centre network, and a recent analysis found that the UK has a sustained, long-term pattern of under-investing in research and development.

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Reader's comments (1)

Under the 'duel support system' about 1/3rd of taxpayer funding of university research seems to be mostly QR allocations for peer reviewed academic and curiosity driven research, which then apparently greatly influences the research priorities of the Research Councils(1/4), the rest being mainly Government and Charities contributions to research institutes and other similar bodies. Within this framework the TSB/Catapult centres/LEPs/UEPs/KTNs/ Research innovation funds/doctoral centres etc. seem to be longstanding piecemeal attempts to find an effective way of identifying and turning research into products and services, by combining quite limited public funds with leveraged business finance. Higher level trailblazer apprenticeships are now also anticipated in the mix. Thus perhaps the BIS review needs to be more comprehensive, possibly even warranting a Royal Commission inquiry, directed at formulating proper national academic and strategic research priorities across both the public and private/commercial /industrial sectors, viewed in the context of global competition for markets.

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