Memorandum from AURIL
AURIL was created in 1995 from the merger of
two sister organisations which had represented industrial liaison,
technology and knowledge transfer and research administration
specialists in universities and polytechnics since the 1970s.
AURIL is a network of professionals dedicated
to the development of partnerships between higher education and
industry to support innovation and competitiveness.
AURIL is now the leading representative body
for professionals in the knowledge business in Europe. We provide
a professional CPD service to our members and aim to influence
knowledge transfer policy by lobbying funders, industry, HE stakeholders,
government and its agencies.
The objectives for which the association was
established were to support its members, being universities in
the UK and Republic of Ireland in the development of mutually
beneficial partnerships with industry and other sectors in the
fields of research, technology and knowledge transfer, consultancy
and related activities to enhance wealth creation and quality
To promote and provide facilities for discussions
and consultation between representatives of university, institutions
and other organisations, on any matters effecting or relevant
to industry links with external bodies, relating to research or
other services provided by the university sector.
To keep its members and others informed on current
issues and developments relative to industry-related partnerships,
research administration and technology/knowledge transfer.
To improve professionalism and to spread good
To promote the association as a valuable resource
in terms of information and expertise.
To provide views, where appropriate, to Government/UUK
and others on matters relating to its areas of competence.
All universities are members and they are usually
represented by the staff of their Research, Regional, Development
or Enterprise Offices (but also University Exploitation Companies).
Members are responsible for a wide variety of activities ranging
from acquiring research funding to knowledge transfer to Business
Development and Spin-Out Companies (see Annex 1).
AURIL is governed by a chair, currently Brian
McCaul, University of Liverpool and council of eleven, all voluntary
(Annex 2) and who are elected rotationally, on a two year term
by ballot of HEIs members, (one vote per institution). For an
annual blanket fee each institution can nominate up to 10 members.
We believe that this number will cover most Knowledge-Transfer
The Association is supported by an Executive
Director, Dr Philip Graham, who is currently seconded (60 per
cent) from Queen's University Belfast, a full-time Events Manager
and one Clerical Officer and a part-time Finance Officer. AURIL's
registered office is in London and the association is administered
from Queen's University Belfast.
The Association is funded entirely from membership
subscription and any surpluses from services and conferences.
The Association has a broad agenda and seeks
to plug gaps in the development and best practice in the Knowledge
Transfer sector. Continuing Professional Development (to address
the skills shortage) and the spread of good practice among members
being the most obvious mechanism by which this is achieved.
AURIL also has associate members who form an
integral part of the association. Their input and support is essential
for us understanding industry's needs. These companies range from
multi-nationals and SMEs in all technology sectors, as well as
Law Firms, Patent Agents etc.
The Association receives no government or agency
funding and relies heavily on the time and goodwill of a voluntary
council and members who are already heavily stretched in their
AURIL delivers a comprehensive range of services
to its members.
The Mailbasewhich enables
members and others to discuss by e-mail issues of immediate concern.
They facilitate the prompt circulation of information and comment.
Conferences, Seminars and Workshopsfocused
Seminars and Workshops, Professional Theme Group meetings and
Conferences address current and emerging issues. They also provide
an opportunity to meet with policy makers in government and industry
and to give informed responses to new challenges.
Good Practice Guides and other
initiativesAURIL works in partnership with others to produce
high quality, good practice, material. These are listed in Annex
information, links, current news and updates and all conference
and seminar papers.
Each theme group has three main goals:
Exchange good practice through the
development of Policies, Processes, Guidelines and Procedures
plus Measurement and Performance Monitoring.
Exchange and Development of Sector
Positioning, Policies and Practices.
Influencing Policy (of Funders, Government,
The Regional element for each theme will be
addressed through the web.
There are eight key Professional Themes identified,
but others can be formed to address specific issues and these
will have a finite life span.
IP and Commercialisation
Regional Economic Development
EU Structural ProgrammesESF
Economic Impact Studies.
Industrial Research Partnerships
EU Framework Programmes
Research Councils/Office of Science
Costing and Pricing Issues
Research Assessment Exercise
UK and European Research Policy and
University Research Policy and Management
Conduct and Best Practice Issues
Other matters pertaining to University-based
Business, Enterprise and Commercial Activities
Policy Seminar for Budget Holders
Continuing Professional Development for Members
Structures and Leadership Styles
Strategies for Managing Research
and Enterprise Support Operations
Medicine and Health-related
Developing links with NHS
Building a working relationship with
NHS via BEP, NHS HUBS and the NHS R&D Forum
Promoting AURIL via the Department
of Trade and Industry quarterly journalbiotech advantage
and the R&D Forum Website
Present on AURIL at BEPs and R&D
Facilitate networking of individuals
who want to share cross-sectional expertise and experience between
HEIs and the NHS.
Support newcomers to careers in the
technology transfer in the NHS.
This has been added following discussion
at Council and after a meeting with ABPI and UUK. It will cover
all aspects of ethics.
Cultural Creative Industries
It has been agreed to form a CC Theme
Group due to the exceptional interest shown at the recent HEFCE
Conference in Surrey (January)
Purpose: To examine the ways in which
universities support (regional) economic development through engagement
with the creative industries, community sector.
AURIL also has Associate Members from Industry,
Patent Agents, Law Firms, Higher Education Stakeholders (HEFCE,
Research Councils etc), Government Agencies (Patent Office) and
other related bodies.
AURIL Members operate in a changing potential,
social and technological environment. AURIL therefore endeavours
to influence change to the benefit, of its members and to aid
industrial collaboration, economic regeneration and support entrepreneurship
Due to its unique position, AURIL is well placed
to, and has, advised government on knowledge transfer policy and
has collaborated with many organisations in producing good practice
material covering IP Management, Consultancy, Continual Professional
Development, Research Collaboration with Industry and Management
of e-Learning Materials. The publications and the partners involved
are listed in Annex 3.
AURIL is a member of the CBI and sits on the
ICARG (Inter Company Academic Relations Group). AURIL also has
developed important and effective links with the DTI, OST, Patent
Office, Treasury, HEFCE and other Stakeholders.
Within the Knowledge Transfer Sector (UK) AURIL
has good working links with UKSPA (UK Science Parks Association),
UKBI (UK Business Incubation), UNICO and LES (Licensing Executive
Society). In conjunction with the Patent Office, AURIL is working
on a revision of its IP Handbook for Practitioners which would
include new sections of direct reference to Science Parks and
Incubators. These could include IP Financial issues, IP Company
Law issues and Business Development.
It is our hope that this group, pulled together
initially for this project, will eventually evolve into a formal
Council of United Kingdom Knowledge Organisations (UKKO) providing
greater coherence within the Knowledge Transfer continuum. There
are many organisations and representative bodies in the UK with
responsibilities or involvement in the university-based knowledge
business either on the supply or demand side.
Many of these bodies have productive relationships
with each other but perhaps the time has come to create a council
of their representatives. Connected by a virtual basis it would
convene a national annual meeting with government representatives
from the interested areas such as the Treasury, Department of
Trade and Industry, Department of Health, OST the Research Councils
etc. Such an arrangement would help to facilitate the UK's policy
mission of being pre-eminent in the Global Knowledge-based economy
by providing a single national forum for the discussion of relevant
issues to the university-based knowledge businesses in Northern
Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. A proposal is detailed in
Internationally AURIL has links with The British
Council and will shortly be moving its London base to the Gordon
Square Offices of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
It is hoped that as the leading Knowledge Transfer Practitioner
group in Europe we can help spread good practice to other nations.
We have already submitted a bid to the Association for Commonwealth
Universities to host the maximum of six of their Professional
Fellows, who under the scheme, must be mid-career professionals
in the field of knowledge transfer. They will spend between three
and six months in a UK HEI to learn good practice.
So far, on behalf of the British Council, senior
AURIL representatives have visited Israel, Poland, India and Russia
and have presented to many other delegates including Cuba, Brazil,
the USA and Canada.
AURIL is also closely involved with the European
network for Knowledge Transfer Association PROTON (Public Research
Organisations' Technology Offices Network). PROTON Europe is a
pan-European network of technology offices linked to public research
organisations and universities. It is supported by the European
Commission as part of its Gate2Growth Initiative.
The UK stands second in the international league
table behind the USA, in the commercialisation of university research.
We have a lot of experience and good practice to pass on. AURIL
is well represented on the PROTON steering groups and in fact
when asked to supply nominations AURIL submitted twice as many
knowledge transfer professionals than all the other European partners
The ultimate objective of PROTON Europe is to
boost the commercial uptake of publicly funded R&D throughout
Europe by further developing the professional skills of those
working in this field. This should further contribute to the creation
of new products, processes and markets, improve the management
of innovation and thereby stimulate sustainable and high-value
economic growth, competitiveness and employment.
RDAs need to engage more fully with HE. This
extends to the need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness
of project appraisal processes, to improve the understanding of
the role of HEIs in the knowledge economy (particularly in an
appreciation of the contribution to innovation in fields which
cannot always be industry led) and a move from an overemphasis
on capital and building projects, which offer little practical
support to business.
We have recently presented a submission to the
House of Lords "Call for Evidence: Science and the RDAs"
and have attached it as Annex 5.
An extensive CPD Programme for not only our
members but for those involved in Public Sector Research Establishments
and RDAs (it has been suggested that one of the main failings
of the RDAs is its skill shortage), has been a major objective
Data has shown that the number of Knowledge
Transfer practitioners is likely to grow by 88 per cent in the
next few years. Training programmes already exist delivered through
private companies, but they are expensive and therefore only certain
HEIs can afford to send staff on them.
AURIL has been carrying out research into the
CPD needs of the sector since 1999. Our report identified the
key skills and knowledge required by knowledge transfer staff
in fulfilling their role within a HEI. In conjunction with HESDA,
in its role as the National Training Organisation for the UK Higher
Education Sector, AURIL produced a CPD Guide and the main elements
of it are contained in Annex 6.
AURIL has been lobbying for some time to help
with funding for an enhanced training provision. Government agreed
that the lack of trained staff was hampering innovative approaches
to commercialisation as existing experienced human resources were
stretched. Government top-sliced HEIF of £1 million to provide
such a programme. That was 18 months ago and only in the next
few months will a call for proposals be issued.
AURIL believes that this delay has severely
hampered CPD for staff in the sector and ultimately will have
consequences for the UK in developing a competitive edge on other
knowledge-based economies. The simple AURIL proposed solution
could have generated significant rewards if acted upon quickly.
We are concerned that there is a tendency to
under-estimate the level of university/industry collaboration.
Evidently there is always room for improvement but the facts in
do indicate substantial HEI/Industry partnerships.
The HE-BI (Survey of the Interaction between
Higher Education and Business December 2001) stated that:
Sponsored research reached £2
billion in 1999 (which was an increase of 7 per cent on the previous
year. Of this 12.3 per cent, £242 million was with business,
which is a slightly larger figure than that of the US.
The estimated total income generated
from consultancy was £60.2 million in 2000, although the
real figures are likely to be much higher than this.
The UK is excellent at the formation
of small companies based on high quality research and there are
now examples of additional spin-outs spinning out from the original
There have been 199 spin-out companies
created in 1999-2000 compared with a total of 338 in the whole
of the previous five years.
UK HEIs created one spin-out company
for every £8.6 million of research expenditure:
in Canada it was one spin-out
for £13.9 million;
in USA it was one spin-out for
As far as IP generation is concerned, the HE-BI
survey reported that:
Scottish universities now generate
more IP than Scottish industry;
Japanese universities hold 0.1 per
cent of total patents in Japan:
US universities hold 3 per cent;
German universities hold 4 per
UK patents filed in 2000, increased
by 22 per cent (on the previous year to 1,534).
This illustrates the level of HEI/Industry activity
taking place in the sector and these forms of partnerships take
many different forms. Some are:
Other Third-Party Funding;
Student Projects and Placements;
Sponsored and Honorary Post and Secondments;
Spin-out Companies, Start-Ups, Incubators
and Science Parks.
Too often universities are seen as suppliers
of services on demand rather than partners with which relationships
should be built to deliver economic and corporate growth. Businesses
sometimes do not understand that universities are not designed
to deliver what the company needs at any given moment.
The business community has a tendency to recite
historical anecdotes. If there was a real problem they would be
responding directly to requests for evidence and lobbying more
pro-actively. This does not seem to be the case.
Regionally, networks have been set up whereby
requests from industry for a particular type of research/consultancy
have been directed towards a "central clearing house".
This system seems to work well as those individuals
involved are best placed to direct the inquiry to the most appropriate
institution. This could be replicated nationally.
It is common place, however, for industry to
build on individual relationships (some formed from consultancy
services). Occasionally discussions go a long way on costing and
pricing issues and contractual negotiation without contracting
the official Research Office. By the time the "official"
university office is involved, the deal has been done and the
best knowledge transfer staff can do is to reduce the risk and
prevent further IP leakage.
When looking for potential partners, business
should consider other issues eg policies and procedures within
the University for managing IP, reward/incentive schemes, knowledge
transfer experience levels etc.
AURIL in conjunction with the CBI published
"Partnerships for Research and Innovation" which sets
out benefits of collaboration. The main benefits are outlined
below and the publication is attached.
||For Universities |
|Thinking Longer Term||Accessing current|
research programmes. Gaining an inside track on emerging fields and enabling technologies developed in HEIs
|Gaining insights into the research problems of interest to particular companies or industrial sectors
|Benefiting from New Ideas and Past Experience
||Getting an alternative perspective on problems. Access to accumulated research and scholarly knowledge through people, libraries
sourcing ideas for student projects, developing curriculum material with practical examples, gaining new perspectives and new areas for teaching
|Going Global||Links with academics' extensive national and international networks
||Maintaining Research momentum||Gaining status, prestige, keeping projects live and developing new ones
|Outsourcing||Harnessing the efficiency and/or cost effectiveness of getting research done by a university. Can be used to smooth fluctuating in-house demand
||Applying knowledge||A chance to apply skills and knowledge to solving real business problems. Widening the customer base for your work
|Complementing the Company's base skills
||Access to skills within universities that company staff lack
||Complementing the University's base skills
||Learning new skills and techniques developed in industry
|Taking a Multi-Disciplinary Approach||Accessing a range of disciplines at once in a university (eg providing the background for technology integration projects)
||Learning Business Processes||Learning new approaches to managing projects and how industry works eg through sponsored positions, seconded staff, guest lectures etc
|Harnessing Public Funds||Bringing additional financial resources to bear on research and thereby spreading costs
||Harnessing Private and Public funding
||Drawing on a wider range of private funding. Assess to public funds that require industry collaboration
|Reducing Risk||Sharing costs, releasing staff time, finding out what others are doing, keeping options open
||Building on Excellence and Reputation
||Establish a track record with industry, breaking new ground and enhancing prospects
|Complimenting the Company's Physical Resource Base
||Accessing unique or specialist university-based equipment, facilities and services
||Complimenting the University's Physical Resource Base
||Accessing state of the art facilities and services that the university may lack
|Recruitment Made Easy||Finding the right staff by getting to know students, PhD researchers and academic supervisors
||Sourcing Job Opportunities||Getting the inside track or possible work experience and job opportunities for students and staff
Within AURIL we have experience in managing both HEI/Industry
and HEI/HEI partnerships and therefore we can make some practical
HE interaction with business needs to move towards a sustainable
model where the full cost of the activity (if not assisted by
grant schemes) is met by the beneficiary company. Otherwise reach
out activity will merely drain resource from other university
core activities (The Transparency Review has already pointed to
this in respect of R&D and this will equally apply to Reach
out activity). The Research Council and Government department
funding schemes do little to encourage a full cost culture in
The mechanisms for the allocation of research funding also
need to more effectively mesh with the objective of reach out
to business and industry. The emphasis of the RAE and the pressures
that it exerts on academic and administrative time need to be
counter balanced by reference to explicit criteria on knowledge
It is generally agreed that "forced" partnerships
do not work well. Whether it is due to some regional requirement
or other funding condition, partnerships must stem from a natural
alignment. The same can be said for bidding for government funding
where it has been implied that a bid from a particular "cluster"
would stand a better chance of their individual bids success.
AURIL welcomes the Government's funding and commitment to
third mission activities. Herobac and HEIF have made a significant
difference to the ability of HEIs to respond to the needs of businessand
to do this within a diverse framework, suited to the strengths
of different HEIs. Consequently any retreat from a core plus model
for the funding of this is likely to have damaging impact on the
ability of the sector to respond to businessjust as that
the necessary infrastructure, expertise and links are becoming
Continued bid based funding not only prevents long term planning
but absorbs time in bid preparation as opposed to real work with
business. Further it may result in the loss of capacity already
built within HEIs. We refer again to the lack of skilled staff
and this was the main cause of the slow start in delivery in its
first years of the awards. The lack of delay in providing a national
training programme has cost us valuable years but third mission
must be embedded as quickly as possible within the Universities
Government must also make it clear however, what it wants
from the investment in third mission. AURIL is keen to help establish
the metrics which will monitor third mission activity and is best
placed to do that.
AURIL members have a major role to play in the management
of TCS. Capacity building within the academic side of HE needs
to be undertaken. Schemes such as TCS allow planning and cover
for academics, whereas short term projects and the development
of links with industry are more ad-hoc and these can create problems
for high calibre academics who tend to have full timetables. There
are concerns about the proposed change in the structure of TCS.
Business Link do not have a good history of promoting TCS and
if the timescale parameters are going to change, this will have
a significant effect on quality of the programmes. It is felt,
therefore, that the strategic nature of TCS will diminish.
In recent years universities here recognised the need to
raise awareness of IP amongst their staff. This is a top down
issue and in order for staff to accept the importance of IP generated
in their work, senior management must have policies and procedures
in place to manage IP and make sure that their IP Strategic Plan
dovetails with other university policies.
AURIL enjoys a close working relationship with the Patent
Office and their support in this area must be commended. The joint
AURIL/Patent Office/UUK "managing IPa guide to Strategic
Decision Making in Universities" was originally designed
for VCs and Executive Boards. The publication is now on its second
reprint as Deans and departmental heads are now using the strategic
guide to set policy within their own faculties and departments.
(See attached Annex 7, presentation made by the Executive Director
of AURIL on IP Policies and Procedures based on Managing IP: A
More work of this nature can be done to raise the profile
of IP and how to protect it. We have already mentioned that we
are currently working on a similar guide for the wider knowledge-transfer
sector and this should be encouraged and supported by government.
Structural funding plays a critical role in facilitating
the interaction of higher education and businessparticularly
interaction with the SME community in economical weaker regions.
This role is especially important whilst third-mission funding
remains embryonic. This is another important reason for embedding
third mission funding into core funds. Yet the current application
of State Aid rules in the UK is confusing, heavy handed and insufficiently
nuanced. In consequence at present the application of these rules
greatly hinder the development of HE projects that seek to support
SMEs. The DTI appear to recognise this problem but the sooner
that we move to a regime that focuses solely on activities that
really distort competition, the better.
AURIL is a membership organisation, its primary members being
HEIs with Industry, Government Departments and Agencies, funders
and other stakeholders being associate members. We are the professionals
who have been involved in knowledge-transfer for many years. AURIL
is there to support its members but also to advise government
and others on policy and practicalities of delivering policy.
Currently our main concerns centre around the following:
industry/HEI collaborationaiming for a
better understanding of each others needs and how they can be
accommodated and delivered;
the Skills Shortagesetting up a national
training programme which is appropriate and open to all those
either carrying out or supporting knowledge-transfer in any form;
raising the awareness of IP within universities
and among industrial partners;
third mission fundinghelping to set realistic
and meaningful metrics; and
the establishment of a group representing all
aspects of knowledge transfer activity who could meet regularly
with all stakeholders to ensure continuity of policy, funding
AREAS OF ACTIVITY OF AURIL MEMBERS
University knowledge transfer, innovation and
Reach out, enterprise and company management
Research and development administration
Commercialisation and exploitation
Intellectual Property Rightsmanagement
of and rising awareness among both staff and students
Contracts and Project management
Student Placement (TCS) and staff exchanges
Facilities management and hire
Fundraising and Alumni Offices
Research Ethics and Research Policy
Identifying Research Funding opportunities
Liaison with Research Councils, Charities Industry
Facilitation of Partnerships between Universities
and other stakeholders leading to economic development
Training Courses and Short Courses
Regional activitieswith local RDAs, Univest
NI, Invest UK, etc
Marketing (of enterprise)
AURIL COUNCIL Elected Members
|Mr Brian McCaul,|
University of Liverpool
|Dr Tammy Long,|
Knowledge House Manager,
University of Teesside
|Vice Chair |
|Mrs Kate Hughes,|
Director, Research and Development Services,
University of Warwick
|Dr Robert Bushaway,|
Head of Research Services,
The University of Birmingham
|Mrs Anne Craig,|
Director Enterprise Liaison,
University of Salford
|Dr Pat Frain,|
Director of University Industry Programme,
University College Dublin
|Mr Martin Haywood,|
Director of Business Development,
University of Sunderland
|Mr James Houston,|
Director, Research and Innovation Services University of Dundee
|Mr Neil Johnson,|
Director of Research Support and Industrial Liaison,
The University of Bradford
|Ms Gillian McFadzean,|
Director of Technology and Research Services,
|Mrs Maire Nolan,|
Technology Transfer Manager,
Manchester Metropolitan University
|Dr Philip Graham,|
Executive Director AURIL,
The Queen's University of Belfast
AURIL HAVE CONTRIBUTED SIGNIFICANTLY AND SERVED ON THE
STEERING GROUPS OF THE FOLLOWING PUBLICATIONS:
Title: Continuing Professional Development Framework for
Staff Engaged in University Industry Links
Collaborators: AURIL, HESDA, DFEE, DTI, HEFCE, Eversheds
Title: Handbook of Intellectual Property Management
Collaborators: AURIL, Murgitroyd, The Patent Office
Title: Intellectual Property Rights in e-Learning Programmes
Collaborators: AURIL, HEFCE
Title: Managing Intellectual Property
Collaborators: AURIL, Universities UK, The Patent Office
Title: Optimising Consultancy
Collaborators: AURIL, Universities UK, HEFCE, DTI, ELWa,
Title: Partnerships for Research and Innovation
Collaborators: AURIL, CBI, DTI, EPSRC, Universities UK,
RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER ORGANISATIONS UKKO
Proposal to Establish Council of United Kingdom Knowledge
There are many organisations and representative bodies in
the UK with responsibilities or involvement in the University-based
knowledge business either on the supply or the demand side.
Many of these bodies have productive relationships with one
another but perhaps the time has come to create an informal national
council of their representatives. Connected on a "virtual"
basis it would convene a national annual meeting with government
representatives from interested areas such as the Treasury, the
Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Health, the
Office of Science and Technology, the UK Research Councils etc.
Such an arrangement should help to facilitate the UK's policy
mission of being pre-eminent in the global knowledge-based economy
by providing a single national forum for the discussion of relevant
issues to the university-based knowledge business in Northern
Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.
|Terms:||To bring together representatives of all the relevant UK university-based knowledge organisations with representatives from government.|
To set up an informal Council of such bodies in the UK as a single forum for discussion of issues, the sharing of ideas and practice, and the formation of policy advice.
|Meetings:||An annual meeting to be held with a linked "virtual" network.
|Convenorship:||To be provided by each member body on a rotating basis.
|Title:||The Council of United Kingdom Knowledge Organisations (UKKO).
Association of Medical Research Charities
Association for University Research and Industry Links
Association of University Technology Managers
Inter-company Academic Relations Group
(A working group of the CBI's Technology and Innovation Committee)
The Council for Industry and Higher Education
The Chartered Institute of Patent Agents
European Association of Research Managers and Administrators
Intellectual Property Lawyers Association
LES (Britain and Ireland)
Licensing Executives Society
Office of Science and Technology
THE PATENT OFFICE
Research Administrators' Group Network
The R&D Society
Technology Innovation Information
Universities Association for Continuing Education
UK Business Incubations
UK Science Park Association
The UK University Companies Association
These recommendations are organised to reflect the questions
posed in the "Call for Evidence: Science and the RDAs"
(a) Regional economic development, since the industrial
revolution in eighteenth-century Britain, has been concerned with
the triangle of capital.
Firstly, knowledge capital which is the fruit
of scientific and technological understanding and its dissemination,
discussion and exploitation.
Secondly, skills capital which is the community
of labour and entrepreneurship available, equipped with the most
up-to-date skills and techniques able to harness the knowledge
of scientific invention in practical and applicable ways, generating
new businesses or within existing business and industry.
Thirdly, business capital which is the business
acumen, entrepreneurship investment capital available to develop
innovation and commercialise it in the global economy.
The Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) budget provides
for the formation of knowledge capital and the development of
skills capital. It also links to business capital by enabling
the development of strategic partnerships and collaborations between
knowledge and business capital. The role of the Regional Development
Agency (RDA) has been and is to enhance regional innovation and
entrepreneurship by developing a specific regional economic environment
based upon interlocking regional economic strategies, including
regional innovation policy and a regional skills plan. The RDA
works at the interfaces between the triangle of capital and also
provides the overall framework in which innovation and entrepreneurship
Economic and community regeneration is a fundamental goal
for the regional development agency and utilising the outputs
of SET is a crucial tool available for the RDA to achieve this
It could be said, taking the example of regions in Europe,
that regional policy was more able to respond to SET advances
and at an earlier stage than national policy. The examples of
regions in France, Holland, Germany, Scandinavia and Italy show
how this can be achieved albeit in a different statutory environment.
Nations alone, however, have the economic strength to provide
funding to SET to enable sufficient investment in the knowledge
base from which new capital can be created. The role for the RDAs
is to harness the fruits of national SET investment within the
region. The RDA should do this by ensuring that its Board contains
representatives of SET in the region (the universities and research
centres whose infrastructure supports SET in the region); by developing
a regional innovation strategy as part of its regional economic
strategy; by recognising the importance of higher skills in the
regional learning and skills strategy and facilitating the development
of knowledge centres (now picked up in the White PaperThe
Future of Higher Education) and schemes of progression so that
initial training can lead on to higher skills courses; fostering
strategic partnerships and collaborations among the SET "providers"
as well as between them and business and industry; by engaging
in community regeneration through planting new businesses and
industries spun from SET expenditure in universities and creating
new commercial opportunities to stimulate economic growth and
new investment in regional and local communities, recognising
the matrix of sub-regional economic development as well as regional
and trans-regional economic development.
(b) In most regions, SET advances are now perceived as
essential to the strategies of their respective RDAs, to the extent
that where Higher Education has been under represented there have
been moves to create new higher education structures, even if
only on a devolved or virtual basis. Regional development agencies
need to audit their knowledge capital, recognise that it is held
and produced on a differential basis by universities and in industry
and business and develop a systematic approach to embedding SET
advantages within its economic strategies.
A good example of a trans-regional approach to regional economic
development might be the MEDICI project in the midlands (combining
East and West Midlands RDAs) to stimulate medical and biosciences
entrepreneurship and innovation. Based upon initial support from
HEFCE, MEDICI also engages both regional development agencies
who recognise and support the project in stimulating medical technologies
and biotechnology as a key priority for new investment. Combining
the knowledge of the major universities and university hospitals
in the two regions, MEDICI is a powerful engine for economic change.
The Science Councils in the North West and North East provide
a focus in the North of England for harnessing and driving the
SET agenda. It is intended to roll this out to other regions.
Many other examples could be given from among AURIL's membership
of such innovative and practical partnerships between regional
development agencies, higher education and business.
(c) The experience of AURIL members is that regional
development agencies are adept at taking advantage of SET advances
(and government investment) and, in particular, in seeking to
form partnerships and collaborations able to access EU funds etc.
There are three relative shortcomings:
firstly, regional development agencies have yet
to engage business and industry fully whose own recognition of
the importance, relevance and commercial strength of SET is variable
and whose own investment in research and development is not as
high as some of Britain's major competitors. It should also be
noted that SBS/Business Links have to-date not engaged SMEs with
innovation through HE in any substantive, meaningful way;
secondly, RDAs agencies have yet to develop effective
mechanisms to recognise investment vehicles and disburse financial
support quickly and efficiently to those priority areas. More
flexible, less bureaucratic ways need to be developed so that
investments can be made in a less cumbersome and ineffective way.
This could be done by more effective strategic process and less
tactical process combined in a smooth operational approach to
recognising SET strengths in the region and harnessing these to
commercial advantage. Lessons could be learned from the Scottish
model in this respect; and
finally, RDAs need to demonstrate a true commitment
to the HE sector by providing funding over longer timescales,
not just in line with annual budgets.
(d) This leads on from (c) above in that process (often
based on an attempt to apply cluster theory to economic growth
led by the DTI) has not recognised the importance of sub-regional
and trans-regional links:
performance matrix should be used as to the most
effective RDA-led investments and interventions but it must be
understood that these are most reliable when considered on a long
term rather than short term basis and when taken in conjunction
with longitudinal studies and case profiles;
more holistic systems need to be developed to
measure the impact of investment which aims to encourage and stimulate
embedding SET into the community and business world, through such
initiatives and funding streams as ERDF and HEIF. AURIL has been
working with the key stakeholders and decision makers on the metrics
(e) Lessons can be learned from RDA experience to date
about the need for flexibility, less bureaucracy, more engagement
of business and industry, less clusters management and more awareness
of the relative SET strengths in the region and support for those
whose knowledge capital is based upon large infrastructure assets
in equipment, facilities and people whose outputs are recognised
by international objective benchmarks of quality, more support
for higher skills development and more investment in community
regeneration based upon knowledge centre investments.
We have identified the key roles in Knowledge Transfer as:
1. Manage Information and Communications
1.1 Obtain Information
1.2 Exchange Information
1.3 Organise Information
2. Managing Relationships
2.1 Relationships with other parts of HEI
2.2 Relationships outside of HEI
2.3 Relationships between external agencies and HE
3. Manage Projects
3.1 Manage a range of projects
4. Manage the Commercial Interface
4.1 Recognise business opportunities
4.2 Develop opportunities
4.3 Market and promote the HEI
5. Manage opportunities within a legal context
5.1 Understand basis of intellectual property
5.2 Understand impact on operational activity
5.3 Writing/negotiating contracts
6. Problem solve and manage decision making process
6.1 Resolve problem areas
7. Manage Finance
7.1 Preparing financial information (eg budgets, costing,
7.2 Seeking grants/funding and preparing proposals
Within these the key skills required are:
Problem Solving and Decision Making Skills
Business Development and Selling Skills
Business Planning/Writing Business Plans
Planning and Time Management Skills
Conflict Resolution Skills
Skilled in Receiving Feedback
Team Leadership/Team Workings Skills
Presentation Skills and Marketing Skills
Meeting Skills: Chairing and Contribution
Oral and Written Communication Skills