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Industry and innovation

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The UK has an outstanding track record of industry innovation. World-class industrial research plays an important role in and is essential for transforming innovative ideas into commercially successful products and services. Innovative economies see greater growth and productivity, while companies that innovate grow twice as fast as those which do not.

The increasing importance of the knowledge-driven economy means that the flow of ideas and skills between the research base, industry, business and the wider community is crucial to future prosperity. The complexity of many existing social and economic challenges makes collaboration essential to research and innovation.

Supporting industry and innovation

The Royal Society is committed to innovative scientific research wherever it is found.

In 2014, we launched a new initiative to reintegrate science and industry at the Society and to promote the value and importance of science by connecting academia, industry and government. The programme is overseen by our Science, Industry and Translation Committee, chaired by Dr Hermann Hauser KBE FREng FRS and Sir Simon Campbell CBE FMedSci FRS.

We provide advice on how best to support science across the research and innovation system, responding directly to Government on topics that matter to industry and accessing the expertise of our Fellows with experience in innovation and translation.

In 2015, the UK’s national academies published Building a stronger future, recommending that the incoming Government adopt a stable long-term investment environment for research, innovation and skills.

In our response to the Dowling Review, we set out the value of business-university research collaborations beyond technology transfer, and in our submission to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee inquiry on Access to Finance, we recommend what help is needed for science-based companies at various stages of their development.

Promoting collaboration

Collaborations between researchers, universities and the private sector can help to bring innovative ideas to market and provide the skills and knowledge for a successful economy.

Through events such as our annual Labs to Riches event and Transforming Our Future conference series, we promote collaboration and translation by bringing together leading scientists and leading industrialists.

Our Industry Fellowship scheme supports researcher-mobility, allowing scientists to spend time in both academia and industry, build collaborations and enhance knowledge transfer.

Recognising innovative scientists

We believe it is important to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our leading innovative thinkers and entrepreneurs, and to identify the processes by which successful innovation occurs.

We are collating case studies designed to show how this translation of research into industry has been achieved in the UK. Each collection of stories highlights a particular perspective on translation, helping to illustrate different approaches and bring out the experiences of the scientists and businesses involved. Together, these case studies demonstrate one of the key ways in which science and research contribute to and enrich UK society.

Many of our grants and awards support and celebrate innovation. The Royal Society Innovation Award enables scientists to develop an already proven concept or prototype into a near-market product ready for commercial exploitation, while the Royal Society Translation Award funds proof-of-concept testing. The Mullard Award is made to individuals whose work has the potential to make a contribution to national prosperity, while the Milner Award is given for outstanding achievement in computer science.

For further information on our industry activities please contact the industry team at industry@royalsociety.org.