One-stop ideas shop unveiled

November 16, 2001

The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council will publicly launch a pioneering national website on research expertise at a knowledge-transfer conference later this month.

Shefc is co-hosting the conference for business people, investors and researchers with the Scottish Executive and national development agency Scottish Enterprise.

Wendy Alexander, enterprise and lifelong learning minister, has encouraged closer top-level links between Shefc and Scottish Enterprise, arguing that more effective exploitation of academic research is needed for Scotland's economic development.

The conference aims to bring together academic and business interests, but Shefc will now also promote higher education to a wider national and international audience through its Scottish Research Information System.

The SRIS has been developed over three years, during which businesses from multinationals to small firms were canvassed on their needs and preferences when using the internet to fund research, develop joint ventures, place contracts or buy services.

The odds of businesses finding a Scottish academic site were estimated at one in eight in a United Kingdom search and one in 1,200 in a worldwide search.

Shefc aims to improve these odds through its one-stop information source, offering details of 6,000 academic research groups and researchers.

The businesses surveyed believed that the SRIS would save them time and effort and help them make better use of academic capabilities and resources.

Richard Hancock, Shefc's head of research funding and policy, said: "It's more than a website, it's a web-based database of research expertise. The aim is to make information much more accessible to business, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, which say they have great trouble in finding out what's going on in universities."

Information is set out from each institution on active researchers, projects under way including their scale and funding source, research groups' range of activities, and services the institution can offer.

The site also includes daily news of research and its potential applications, details of Scottish inventions and information useful for academics and institutions on tenders and research opportunities.

Stewart Brown, head of commercialisation at Scottish Enterprise, and an adviser on the SRIS, said: "All the universities in Scotland take commercialisation and knowledge transfer very seriously. They've been building up their resources and expertise."

Each institution has pledged to keep its information up to date, with Shefc's consultants, Solon, collating and arranging the content in an international standard format.


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