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Dr Matthew Aylett

Dr Matthew Aylett is recognised as a world authority in speech technology research and development. “Throughout the past 10 years I have sought to retain the benefits of both industry and academia, by splitting my time between the two. The field of speech technology is a relatively new one and is still in a state of rapid change. By retaining academic status, I legitimise my expertise in the eyes of this niche industry and this helps my small company prosper.”

As well as being Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of CereProc, Matthew also spends his time carrying out research at The University of Edinburgh. His continued publication record, conference attendance and networking has meant academic collaborators are more likely to invite his company to participate in projects: “Rather than depend solely on market presence, SMEs must continuously innovate, so significant portions of my time are spent on commercial projects. However, it is also very useful to remain in the academic arena to gain research grant funding for the company.”

Matthew always wanted to remain in Edinburgh, a life choice he believes may have limited a purely academic career: “In my world of informatics, lecturing opportunities are few and far between, locally. Instead, I chose to move between academia and industry because I enjoy both. Academia offers research freedom and CereProc is established and profitable enough to allow me the ‘luxury’ of pursuing academic research at the same time.”

According to Matthew, the greatest difference between academia and industry is a lack of collaborative, high risk speculative research within the commercial environment: “From my perspective, in the private sector the emphasis is on creating working products and working in a tight engineering team. Academic research is more focused on ideas, but with very loose collaboration and less teamwork.”

Matthew believes more opportunities for academic researchers to collaborate with industry should be supported: “Benefits gained in industry that would help the academic world are many, including: project management, software engineering, how to make robust products, a real concern for quality, an ability to focus on getting practical tasks done very quickly, managing people, and when to procure rather than re-invent.”