That is the view of Andy Hopper, the outgoing president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, who steps down from the role next month.
He said that taxpayers were funding the creation of intellectual property in universities, “so it seems reasonable that more of this is made available to UK SMEs that are best positioned to add value and commercialise it”.
He suggested that in return, universities take a 1 or 2 per cent shareholding in the company, which would be “more of a goodwill gesture than a conventional transaction”.
“This is all perfectly possible and is happening in a number of UK universities already,” he said.
As part of his outgoing message, Professor Hopper, head of the Computer Laboratory at the University of Cambridge, also called on the government to include more engineers in decision making on projects such as High Speed 2 and airport expansion.
“In the UK, engineering is still undervalued despite our rich industrial heritage and track record in pioneering new technologies. This is reflected in the make-up of the government and must change to help turn around the UK economy,” he said.
“With the success of so much future policy based around engineering and technology, I believe that it is time for the government to draw more on the knowledge and experience of the UK’s best engineering talent at the highest levels.”