Science and TechnologyWritten evidence submitted by Bournemouth University

1. What are the difficulties of funding the commercialisation of research, and how can they be overcome?

Lead times from first investment to showing any return. Together with uncertain return on investment. Difficulty of finding third party investors unless you have a good track record of success. Any investor requires a large share of the equity before committing any funds. The costs of protecting the IP are sometimes prohibitive. The discussions about who owns the IP can be protracted and difficult.

2. Are there specific science and engineering sectors where it is particularly difficult to commercialise research? Are there common difficulties and common solutions across sectors?

From our experience medical areas and any areas with a very high risk of uncertainty of return.

3. What, if any, examples are there of UK-based research having to be transferred outside the UK for commercialisation? Why did this occur?

No experience of this.

4. What evidence is there that Government and Technology Strategy Board initiatives to date have improved the commercialisation of research?

Some KTP’s have led to new products being designed, developed and delivered to the market place. In my experience grants for R&D and formerly SMART awards have also led to commercialisation of research. (eg Cannon Technology, Accurate Controls).

5. What impact will the Government’s innovation, research and growth strategies have on bridging the valley of death?

Uncertain, it is too early to tell. Lack of, or poor marketing by collaborating businesses has regularly prevented technologies developed by universities from achieving success in the market place. This needs greater recognition.

6. Should the UK seek to encourage more private equity investment (including venture capital and angel investment) into science and engineering sectors and if so, how can this be achieved?

Yes more seed corn funding would help as would more “proof of concept” (PoC) funding with guaranteed follow on funding if PoC is successful.

7. What other types of investment or support should the Government develop?

As above PoC funding would help. A preferential tax regime for start up companies would help support innovation. A list of “industry/university brokers” who could assist linking industry to universities and assessing the relevance of university research to an industry would be a great help.

February 2012

Prepared 11th March 2013