66. We have identified a range of issues that we
believe raise questions which our successors may wish to pursue.
- Do Government Offices have a clear sense of their
mission? Have they sufficient DTI staff to monitor initiatives
in the region and ensure a regional perspective to national policy?
Are they in danger of duplicating RDA functions, and are they
being neglected by Government in favour of the RDAs?
- Are RDAs capable of creating or reflecting strong
regional loyalties? How will they cope with higher levels of discretionary
funding and roll over budgets?
- How should responsibilities for individual programmes
and initiatives be divided and how can this division of responsibilities
be made clear to users of regional services and those seeking
- How do sub-regional partnerships fit into the
emerging structure of regional administration and government?
- How is the BTI regional network developing, in
particular the co-ordination of overseas promotion? Can inward
investment efforts be improved?
- Do Regional Venture Capital Funds need some waiver
of the Best Value practices to encourage local authority pension
fund involvement? What will the effects be of any constraint on
where investment can go?
- Does the proposed Business Incubator fund arise
from analysis of an unmet need? Is there a clear picture of existing
and planned provision and of the problems to be addressed?
- Should the scope of SMART be widened, for example
targeting it at universities and research institutes? Is there
a gap for a follow-up scheme to SMART which could offer semi-commercial
marketing advice and assistance to firms whose product development
has reached the right stage?
- Should TCS (Teaching Companies Scheme) be made
more flexible and more accessible? What can be done to publicise
it more to companies?
- Is the target of massively increasing funding
realistic for some technology transfer programmes? Will it be
at the expense of quality focussed programmes?
- What is the best model for business education
that will reach beyond the science and technology student community?
- How far can the Science Enterprise Challenge
expand? Will it continue if and when the twelve initial programmes
are self sustaining?
- Do University Challenge Funds require closer
scrutiny, given the recent failure to spend the money on offer
to these Funds?
- There are many schemes for technology transfer
for which institutions must take much time and money
researching and in applying. Is it all too much for the sector
and is there a danger of confusing applicants?
- Is the 'clusters' focus misconceived? Are clusters
too readily identified by RDAs in areas such as logistics and
healthcare where there is no real regional specialisation?
- Should assessment of academic departments, currently
purely academic, reflect the quality and quantity of commercial
- Is the proliferation and overall complexity of
regional schemes damaging the effectiveness of Government work?
Is there room for consideration of the redrawing of administration
and publicising of initiatives and the rationalisation of those
schemes covering similar ground?