Impact in an age of disruption
Dr Stephen Cook, Chief Commercial Officer (Technology), BP plc
Many industry sectors are facing unprecedented disruption as the pace of innovation increases, digitisation creates new opportunities and business models, environmental concerns bite, new economies emerge, demographics shift, bioscience creates new possibilities and geopolitics becomes increasingly volatile. The need to translate invention into value – i.e. innovation – becomes an existential imperative for many companies. Many of the most valuable innovations occur at the boundaries between traditional disciplines. New ways of working in the start-up ecosystem fuelled by venture capital allows ideas to be demonstrated at pace. These factors mean that companies must be connected to research and experimentation at many levels in an ecosystem approach and must expect to collaborate to succeed in shared ownership models. As industry learns the business building and scale-up lessons from the start-up community this in turns creates new possibilities for partnerships to allow more frictionless translation and business and societal impact from research.
An SME perspective on research translation
Peter Brewin, Founder, Concrete Canvas Ltd
1) How could universities support recent graduates and create more successful technology spin out companies?
2) Does a quasi-venture capital model for university spin out companies provide the best outcomes for the universities, the founders and UK PLC?
3)How can the barriers to SME engagement with universities be minimised?
Having founded and spun out two companies from a master’s degree and spent the last 14 years developing, commercialising and licensing technologies within a technology SME, I will provide an SME’s perspective on the above questions with some practical solutions.
Transforming UK translation: a university perspective
Dr Celia Caulcott, Vice-Provost (Enterprise), UCL
Governments and global society at large expect universities to engage with a variety of outside partners in order to translate their research, knowledge and understanding into productive use within those societies and economies. It is well-recognised that the impact that universities can have through such partnerships, and other knowledge exchange activities, is both wide-ranging and profound.
To develop productive relationships that support innovation requires a mixture of bottom-up and top-down approaches. The former approach recognises that most partnerships, technology and ideas development, are driven by the individual researchers and their collaborations with external organisations. The latter approach enables integrated, interdisciplinary and cross-institutional outcomes. Innovative partnerships can be forged with companies, hospitals, governments, and a wide variety of organisations, large and small, private and public: in every case the relationship should be one of equivalence, recognising mutual benefit and shared aspiration.