Select Committee on Trade and Industry Thirteenth Report


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 help?

  • 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 interactions?

  • 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?

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