Select Committee on Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200 - 201)



  Q200  Mr Cawsey: You have both commented on how long this has been an issue in research work. Is there no way that some sort of model of best practice can be brought forward and used by the partners so that there is some way of fast tracking this a bit when you come on to new partnerships? Is that pie in the sky?

  Professor Bruce: Universities have a fairly uniform approach to this, but they are one sector and often of course you are dealing with many different industrial sectors and they have different approaches and different companies and different philosophies. We have agreements with companies in Japan, the States, the UK and elsewhere in Europe and their cultures are often different and their attitudes towards intellectual property are often very different and that is the problem.

  Q201  Chairman: I would like to follow up on this. There was a comment you made earlier, Dr Golby, really about how small the actual amount of money which we are putting into, if you like, applied research field here, particularly government money and you made the point about commercial money from a company like E.ON. Actually testing new renewable devices is a hugely costly activity. Why have we not followed the example of Germany and the United States of actually having central testing facilities where people can come along, small businesses in particular, with their new technologies and literally have them tested at national test centres? David, would it be a better use of your time and resources to actually be able to provide that to, if you like, the applied research community? This question is really to you, Paul and David.

  Dr Golby: I think that it is a good question. We are where we are unfortunately, I think. At the time of privatisation, the CEGB, for example, had such facilities and of course those were split and fragmented in that period and we now have to build from the base upwards. I agree with you conceptually that having national facilities in these areas would be better than where we are today, but unfortunately that is not where we start today.

  Dr Clarke: From my point of view, we do have a number of substantial test facilities in the UK, whether it is the NAREC Centre or the Wavehub for marine, but also in the wind area there are facilities which can be used to test specific aspects of the system, but I do agree that one of the roles of ETI may well be to actually categorise creation of I will not call it national test facility but a dedicated test area for new technologies bearing in mind that quite often, at the scales we are talking about, the best platform to use may well be a real machine in a real environment, so it may be a current operating wind turbine in the Thames Estuary, for the sake of argument. We may see that there are a few machines there which we could use as a test platform for instance, but we will progress that.

  Chairman: I am sorry that we have overrun in this session. Dr Paul Golby, Dr David Clarke, Professor Peter Bruce and Dr Alison Wall, thank you very, very much indeed for your time this morning.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared 19 June 2008