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Collaborate to innovate - our research needs you!

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: IP research, Universities

Today’s blog focuses on a peer review of the findings of a major piece of research collaboration with the Big Innovation Centre (BIC).

London calling the Triple Helix Conference

BIC took complete control and agreed to host this prestigious conference. It was given the right profile and a grand setting in Senate House, University of London. The report, snappily titled 'Collaborate to Innovate: how business can work with universities to generate knowledge and innovation' does what it says on the tin. It brings together the results of a business survey, with case studies and in-depth interviews, exploring what works and what doesn’t.

The session, expertly facilitated by the IPO’s Director of Innovation, Rosa Wilkinson, was an opportunity to reality check the report and to hear from those collaborating with Universities. The session, kicked off by BIC’s Birgitte Andersen, highlighted the policy shift from 'Knowledge Transfer to Open Innovation'. Muthu de Silva, BIC researcher and co-author of the report, then delivered a slick presentation outlining the major findings:

  • there are many examples of successful collaboration between businesses and universities – but still room for improvement
  • adopting communication, collaboration and negotiation-related management practices is a key to successful collaborations
  • university-business interactions should be supported by institutional structures, including Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs)
  • businesses should aim for a portfolio of interactions with universities, built around research, education, placements, and other services
  • university-business placements should be encouraged
  • intellectual property protection strategies should be open and flexible

Interesting debate ensued with questions ranging from the use of the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) 'innovation voucher scheme' which aims to encourage businesses to look outside their current network for new knowledge to help them grow and develop; to how the way academics are rewarded can be changed, and to get them working directly with businesses. The workshop also heard that the relationships were not dependent upon the type of sector they were working in.

Do you have examples of good and bad practice across the business community? Just as the discussion was getting lively, we ran out of time. However, we don’t want to close that conversation down.... we want people’s view on the research. Does this reflect the reality of the way work is done? We want and need your views!

Rosa pointed out the need to move onto the 'real people'... the 'movers and shakers', those whose long term commercial success benefited from their collaboration with Universities. Steve Legg from IBM asked for a quick show of hands of who worked in academia and who worked in industry... surprisingly there was a good mix of both. Steve outlined IBM's long term strategy of support in the development of graduate courses; and the long term planning of their Global Technology Outlook (GTO). A key part of this was the collection and analysis of 'Big Data' and how IBM can use that to make things work better for everyone.

Sergio Lopez Figueroa of Big Bang Lab was up next with an energy and enthusiasm that befitted the name. Collaboration was key to their business, whether it be with large companies, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) or universities. Big Bang highlighted the crisis in graduate unemployment rates and called on the conference to address this problem. Whilst there was an enthusiasm to invest in new talent, there needed to be continued investment to embed learning and wisdom in an organisation.

And the last gang in town was IP Pragmatics’ Elaine Eggington who presented a linked piece of research evaluating the Lambert model licensing agreements. Lunch was approaching and so the decision was should I stay or should I go? But there were still groovy times ahead, as Rosa issued a call to arms and asked people for their views on how the toolkit could be improved. The IPO needs you to help improve its offering to business!

The rallying cries continued with Tony Clayton, Chief Economist at the IPO and Champion of good IP evidence

We don't want a report or a research publication out of this. We want an improved plan for action! This is open innovation in practice.

On that note, we do really want your feedback. Did you attend the conference? Did you attend the workshop? Do you want to consider bidding for any of our research? Please email Go on... you know you want to!

If you have questions or feedback, do comment on this blogpost and we'll do our best to respond.

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