US deal bias for English

November 21, 2003

Scottish and Welsh universities are excluded from a flagship US-UK technology transfer initiative because an existing English scheme is being used to finance it.

An agreement announced this week by chancellor Gordon Brown during US president George Bush's state visit sets out how British universities are to learn from the US about ways to build the "enterprise culture".

Under the US-UK Enterprise Pact announced in Birmingham, where Mr Brown and US Treasury secretary John Snow addressed the Confederation of British Industry conference, the countries will aim to step up exchange of technology-transfer professionals between universities.

Part of the costs of seconding US professionals to English universities will be met through the Higher Education Innovation Fund, a joint initiative between the Department of Trade and Industry, the Office of Science and Technology and the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

But Cheryl Teague, director of research and commercialisation at Paisley University, said Scottish universities would be disadvantaged if they had no access to such funding. She said that any initiative from the government that provided a source of funding should carry across the whole of the UK.

Michael Fourman, professor of informatics at Edinburgh University, said:

"There are a number of areas where Hefce is making initiatives to support excellence in research and technology transfer. It's important that the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council reacts to what are basically competitive threats."

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: "Shefc has a dedicated stream of funding to support knowledge transfer activity... This grant is highly flexible and could be used by universities here to support the type of activity announced by Gordon Brown."

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