2019 NCUB State of the Relationship Report

In these turbulent times the 2019 State of the Relationship Report celebrates those seeking to affect, drive and shape the future of collaboration to make the UK more productive and inclusive.

The NCUB’s annual temperature test of university-business collaboration shows those making the difference in partnerships - using ideas to simplify the innovation ecosystem, undertaking knowledge exchange of unusual topics or bringing value to a particular place or sector.

The Collaboration Progress Monitor, NCUB's annual tracking of long-term trends in UK university-business collaboration, shows the number of interactions increased across the board.  But a reduction in business investment in R&D for a third continuous year represents a challenge for increasing research and development funding to 2.4% of GDP. However, the UK’s continued success in attracting foreign investment is a positive reflection on the global strength of our research base.

Joe Marshall, CEO at NCUB, explains: 

“The Science and Universities Minister [Chris Skidmore] sets out in his foreword the importance of university-business collaboration to achieving the UK’s R&D investment ambitions, so we welcome the increase in foreign investment in UK universities from 2016 to 2017. However, we will be keeping a watching brief on business investment - which showed a decrease during that period - which is equally important for our R&D ambitions”.

The impact of those working to safeguard and futureproof healthy student and graduate experiences are also celebrated in the report. It considers how the skills needs of the future are dependent on the entire education pipeline now, in this climate, and recognises skills are not separate from innovation, but vital to building our research base.

The relationship between universities and business is further explored in a series of thought-leadership pieces including: Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University, on the role of universities in educating for a future economy; Professor Dave Phoenix, Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, on the importance of a technical skills pipeline; and Alice Frost, Director of Knowledge Exchange from Research England, on the role of universities and businesses in building a knowledge economy.

David Sweeney, Executive Chair, Research England who commissioned the report said:

“As we embark on our quest to meet the 2.4% target, Research England’s funding for university knowledge exchange is increasing at its greatest pace since 2003. Our relationship with NCUB will be crucial to achieving this goal, and we are delighted to receive the insights and analysis offered by this report and the demonstration of how universities and business together are building a more innovative, productive and inclusive future for the UK”

The PraxisAuril viewpoint 

PraxisAuril's Head of Policy, Tamsin Mann, has contributed an article to the report's 'Creative Exchanges of Knowlege' section. Titled "The people helping to make ideas have impact" it emphasises the value that KE professionals bring to university-business colaborations.

Tamsin notes that the State of the Relationship report is a welcome celebration of successful university-business collaborations and it is inspiring to read about the range of research breakthroughs and industry innovation happening in the UK with partners at home and overseas, funded by the public and private sectors, for economic, social and creative impact. But how do these collaborations come about in the first place? How does an individual researcher or academic group identify a market for their research breakthrough? How does a company find just the right expertise within the thousands of academics working in the UK research base? How do partners decide what is the best way to pursue a mutual interest? And how do the projects exhibited here come to fruition with all the funding, project management and commercial considerations they require? This is where an often overlooked cohort of people working in almost all UK universities come in: the knowledge exchange professional.

Published annually, the 2019 report is the 6th edition of the State of the Relationship and is entitled Changemakers: Building the future through partnership. Copies of the report can be downloaded here. Find Tamsin's piece on p.54.