Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360
WEDNESDAY 13 JUNE 2007
Q360 Dr Turner: Do you have any shining
examples to show how this has been operating or could operate?
Mr Burt: Yes. I have a very good
example. Our particular company has licensed the technology that
came out originally from the Brookhaven Laboratory. That was assessed
by a number of our US competitors, who deemed that it was too
difficult to procure and to bring to market-place. Through our
links with the UK laboratories, they identified us as a candidate
company, we went over there about five years ago, licensed the
technology, brought it over here using our money and, I would
say, some DTI money at that stage, managed to bring a product
to market-place which is still a world leader and the second generation
is about to appear. We are quite happy to enter into royalty agreements
and commercial exploitation agreements.
Q361 Chairman: What is the name of
Mr Burt: That particular product
is known as FASTtracka.
Q362 Dr Turner: What does that do?
Mr Burt: It is a fast repetition
rate fluorimeter for monitoring the photosynthetic reaction of
chlorophyll in the water.
Chairman: I thought it was!
Q363 Dr Turner: Being a scientist,
you knew instinctively! It can be done but it clearly there was
more that could be done.
Mr Burt: Yes, and the initiative
rests with the company.
Q364 Dr Turner: It also sounds, from
what you are saying, that there are less licensing opportunities
arising out of British laboratories than from the US. Is that
a fair comment?
Mr Burt: There are an awful lot
of opportunities both sides. You certainly see more opportunities
of products appearing out of US laboratories now and coming on
the market-place than you are in the UK.
Q365 Dr Turner: Is that a function
of the scale of US laboratory operations or a difference in approach?
Mr Burt: It is a difference in
approach. As I am sure you can imagine, there are many, many technologies
being developed which are great for scientific purposes but not
suitable for commercial exploitation. The market is not big enough
and what have you. Certainly in the US some organisations ...
For example, if you look at Monterey Bay Aquarium Research, where
the funding is not government at all reallyit comes straight
out of the Hewlett Packard Foundation and they can spend their
money on all sorts of prosaic things where it does not have to
be part of a long-term programmethat lab is probably responsible
for spawning four, five, six technologies which have appeared
on to the market-place in as many years and has achieved significant
revenue for those companies.
Q366 Dr Turner: Do you think there
will be an advantage to UK plc to mimic these approaches?
Mr Burt: Commercially, I think
we either have to mimic or better the approach. We do not want
to be disadvantaged.
Q367 Chairman: Thank you very much.
Could I ask you for, literally, a one-word answer. In terms of
organisation of marine science and its interface with commercial
operations, do you feel the equivalent of a NOAA in the UK would
be an advantage?
Dr Rayner: Yes.
Mr Burt: Yes.
Mr Gallett: Yes.
Dr Thompson: I am not qualified
Chairman: On that note, could I thank
Richard Burt, Ian Gallett, Ralph Rayner and Lesley Thompson. Thank
you very much indeed.