Research Profile

Friday, 14 October 2011

What do businesses need from universities?

I am currently preparing some material for a review on University-Business interactions and I would like to gather as much opinion as possible from you, the business community. I would be very grateful if you can answer five questions which will help me and others understand what businesses really need from universities and how if necessary we can make some positive changes?

Five questions for businesses - how can universities help you?

1. What is the most valuable form of contact that you have with universities?

(e.g. access to trained staff, interns / placement students, access to facilities, staff training / CPD, consultants, research collaboration, access to IP etc...)

2. What can universities do to make themselves more visible / accessible to business?

3. What would increase your level of engagement with universities?

4. What barriers have you encountered in accessing or working with universities?

5. What single action could a university take that would have an immediate positive benefit to your business?

Please feel free to comment below the piece - or by email to

Many thanks in advance for your help.


Friday, 7 October 2011

Contribute to the Wilson Review on Business-University Collaboration

Those of you interested in Higher Education will have read the coalition government's white paper published earlier this year. One recommendation identifies a need for a review on university-business collaboration “We also want our universities to look again at how they work with business across their teaching and research activities, to promote better teaching, employer sponsorship, innovation and enterprise. We have asked Professor Sir Tim Wilson, former vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, to undertake a review into how we make the UK the best place in the world for university-industry collaboration.” White Paper: Putting Students at the heart of higher education. June 2011

Tim has asked me to be one of the contributors to the section "Exploiting the research/innovation capability of business and universities through collaboration" and I am seeking evidence & comment on the items below.

I hope that many will respond to these comments and I'm happy to receive other comments by email to It will be most helpful if there is clear evidence (data and case studies) to support opinion - weblinks to material are very welcome.

I apologise in advance that I will not be able to reply - but I promise to read and consider as much material as possible. If you'd like to respond directly to Tim then you can do so via

Many thanks in advance for your help.

Stephen Caddick

Exploiting the research/innovation capability of business and universities through collaboration

1. UK track record on commercialisation of research

This is an area in which there has been considerable development and we can identify some major UK successes, especially spin-outs.

But are we ambitious enough?

How can we make it easier for academic staff and students to spin-out companies?

Under what circumstances is the licensing model more effective for commercialisation than setting up a spin-out company?

What impact does this commercialisation activity have on the UK economy in terms of jobs and growth?

How might we promote greater collaboration between entrepreneurial academics; between academics and students, and between university communities and external organisations?

2. Impact of impact

The word impact elicits varying responses in academia and the word is now largely interpreted as meaning relevance of research to non-academic activities.

Have the (REF, RCUK) impact agendas changed behaviour within Universities?

Have impact policies had any positive or negative affect on universities - business interactions?

3. Volume and breadth of business sponsored research

There is still a perception that some parts of UK academia could be more open to business and that universities are sometimes difficult to navigate / access.

There is also evidence that UK universities receive a smaller proportion of research income from non governmental sources than in other countries.

Are there new ways in which UK academia can make a more immediate contribution to the growth agenda?

Are there significant barriers to engagement between universities and business and if so what can be done to remove these?

Are there examples of particularly good practices and processes that are effective in facilitating such collaboration?

What incentives are there for collaborative working?

What additional incentives would make a difference?

4. Networks and mechanisms which facilitate business: university collaborations

One of the critical elements of developing collaborations and partnerships is the creation of conditions to allow people to interact and exchange ideas and there are a number of networks available.

Do we have enough of the right kinds of networks for promoting university-business collaborations?

What are the most effective networks and how to we measure their success?

How much do formal mechanisms such as KTP and CASE studentships help with university-business interactions?

What are the most valuable opportunities for collaboration between universities and business (research, contracts, consultancy, CPD, training etc.)?

5. Employability skills in research students

There has been a lot of work done to improve the research student experience and with the advent of doctoral training programmes there are many more opportunities to enhance education, training and skills development.

To what extent do 4-year doctoral programmes include activities that are proven to enhance the employability of students?

Do we do enough to raise the expectations of PhD students to work outside of their specific areas of study?

What employment barriers exist for those who get a PhD?

Can and should we do more to encourage postgraduate students to become entrepreneurs?

Are there opportunities to develop more radical doctoral programmes to encourage career diversity?

Many postgraduate students carry out further research at postdoctoral level.

To what extent do postdoctoral fellowship programmes contain more general employability skills?

Are there ways in which structured postdoctoral fellowship programmes could help promote university:business collaboration?

Are postdoctoral fellows more or less employable outside of their area of academic research?

Do businesses value industrial postdoctoral programmes?