Research England has awarded two grants, totalling £1.5 million, to support programmes working to dramatically increase the economic value and social impacts derived from university research, both internationally and in the UK. The funds will be administered by the University of Cambridge.
The grants, from the Research England Development (RED) Fund, support two programmes: TenU and a new Policy Evidence Unit for University Commercialisation and Innovation (UCI). The two groups will work closely in areas of mutual interest.
UCI will undertake research to create the evidence base for informing research commercialisation policy for government and universities. This new unit will help to drive a step change in universities’ contributions to delivering increased R&D and innovation in the UK through these uncertain and turbulent times.
A leading practitioner group, TenU will share expertise and experience to develop, improve, and disseminate best practice in research commercialisation.
TenU brings together the heads of the world’s leading technology transfer offices (TTOs) at 10 top universities — Cambridge (UK), Columbia (USA), Edinburgh (UK), Imperial College London (UK), Leuven (Belgium), Manchester (UK), MIT (USA), Stanford (USA), Oxford (UK), and University College London (UK).
Dr George Baxter, CEO at Edinburgh Innovations, will represent the University of Edinburgh. The group will share and develop improved approaches to commercialising university research for societal and economic benefit.
Research from these universities has led to many breakthroughs including Edinburgh’s work to develop the world’s first artificial vaccine against viral hepatitis B.
“We are delighted that Research England has recognised and supported the valuable work that the most successful commercialisation services provide to their universities.
“There is much we can learn from each other in sharing best practice, to benefit our economies and societies on a local, national and global level.”
– Dr George Baxter, CEO, Edinburgh Innovations.
As the world works to rebuild its economies in the wake of COVID-19, university TTOs will play a critical role in turning early-stage, research-based innovations into new products and services across many different sectors.
In the UK, the Industrial Strategy has identified universities as key drivers of innovation. At Edinburgh, Dr Baxter said, the University has been working on between 50 and 60 brand new projects centred around Covid-19 in the last four months.
David Sweeney, executive chair of Research England, said: “Research England funding for TenU will help showcase best practice at the global cutting edge, with the new UCI policy unit providing critical evidence and metrics. We look forward to deepening these international links.”