Institute unveils its blueprint for future

April 11, 2003

The Cambridge MIT Institute has launched a new strategy, halfway into its initial five-year lifespan.

This week's statement follows a mid-term review carried out by new executive directors Michael Kelly of Cambridge University and Edward Crawley of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Professor Crawley described the first two years as a start-up period and learning process. The new strategy built on this but was also a sharpening of focus.

The CMI has been under intense scrutiny since its launch in 2000, with the promise of £65.1 million from the UK government. It has been dogged by persistent rumours that both UK chancellor Gordon Brown and MIT were disappointed by its performance.

Professor Kelly said: "We have been in talks with the Department of Trade and Industry and the Treasury. They were concerned that the things we are doing will have impact only in 20 years. So far, we have had less than 1 per cent of the impact."

But Professor Kelly said that CMI would not have spectacular short-term results, as its goal was a long-term change in culture. He added: "We have very strong backing from our sponsors and stakeholders in this."

Professor Kelly said the CMI had complete backing from the government.

Representatives from the Treasury, the DTI and the Department for Education and Skills recently joined CMI staff and stakeholder members of industry at a strategic retreat.

The CMI is ahead of schedule in its bid to raise £16 million from industry in five years, with almost £12 million secured. The new directors said that engaging industry in CMI activities was key to securing future sponsorship.

The strategy builds on the CMI's core mission to enhance the UK's competitiveness, productivity and entrepreneurship. It says that the CMI aims to become "a leading innovator in the theory and practice of knowledge exchange" by undertaking a series of "bold experiments".

Its goals include educating people to work at the interface of universities and industry, changing the interaction process by taking a holistic approach and encouraging academics to approach pure research with an eye to its use.

New Knowledge Integration Communities will be set up to encourage a holistic approach to innovation. These will bring together the players in the process from laboratory bench to market, such as venture capitalists, intellectual property consultants and members of industry, to smooth the way for knowledge exchange.

This week the CMI called for proposals from universities, industry or regional development agencies. Proposals will be assessed by a peer-review process and evaluated on their potential to improve knowledge exchange.

The CMI will also work closely with Richard Lambert, who has been commissioned by the Treasury to look into links between business and universities.

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