The delicate web that ties research together

April 23, 1999

Universities in the UK get more than Pounds 2.6 billion a year for research. The mainstay is the funding and research councils, which provide just over half of this cash. But, despite the recent boost in their funds, others - industry, charities, the European Commission and many British public bodies - are growing in importance and may in time overtake.

The interplay between these varied funders and academia is a complex one of central concern for universities. Last year we launched a monthly section, Research, to address these issues. It went fortnightly in September and from today will appear every week, covering the content of emerging research and its funding and organisation in the UK and abroad.

Universities increasingly compete for research cash, with each other and with other players, particularly research-based firms. Good management of relationships between individuals with ideas, the universities that employ them and the firms that want to develop their ideas is crucial for the health and wealth of all concerned. All is not necessarily sweetness and light as the confrontation between Wellcome and South Cambridgeshire County Council shows (page 35).

How to balance conflicting interests to mutual profit is the subject of today's THES/Royal Institution conference, "Making Money from Ideas". It will also be the subject of Research over the next weeks and months.

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