MPs attack government over its lack of intelligence in spin-off sphere

August 23, 2002

The government's approach to the commercialisation of public-sector science has been slated by MPs.

The Treasury says that commercialising research is key to stimulating greater economic and social benefits for the nation.

But a report from the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) says the government must adopt a more "intelligent approach" to realise this potential.

The Department of Trade and Industry spends more than £500 million on research through the research councils and public research facilities.

The PAC criticises the lack of benchmarking to assess the progress of commercialisation ventures. It says account needs to be taken of the fact that a number of spin-offs will fail and that ventures should be managed as part of a portfolio.

Edward Leigh MP, chair of the PAC, said: "The intelligent approach is for research establishments to treat groups of projects en masse in terms of both managing the risks and assessing the outcome. There is little sign that this happens."

The report says rewards should be shared between research establishments and the teams and individuals working for them and that scientists feel that their commercialisation work is not being recognised.

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