Industry must exert 'pull' on science base

August 28, 1998

Industry should do more to exploit the scientific research of universities in the United Kingdom, the incoming director general of the research councils believes.

"We need to raise awareness of major fertile areas of technology coming down the pipe from the science base," said John Taylor, director of the Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Bristol.

Over the past five years, university researchers have been encouraged to forge links with industry. But Dr Taylor believes that businesses should also make demands on the universities. "An overall issue for the UK as a whole is that there should be a pull on the science base, not just a push from it," he said.

Dr Taylor chairs one of the government's Foresight panels, which aim to identify new markets and the science needed to exploit them. Foresight should encourage industry to take notice of commercial possibilities emerging from university research, he said. Universities could become "pick your own" farms where businesses could select the appropriate research.

Dr Taylor stressed that he would seek a lot of advice before taking over the post from Sir John Cadogan, in January. "My immediate priority will be to listen a lot and to learn a lot," he said.

He also pointed to the recent rise in funds for university research provided under the comprehensive spending review. "Another priority will be to understand the implications of the changes announced. I am very excited by Sir John's achievement in getting an increase in the science vote, and I shall seek to build on that.

"I am very interested in research, science and technology," Dr Taylor said. "It is wonderful to have the opportunity to do something useful for the health of the science base in the UK."

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