Conference 2015 Report: What can government do to support technology transfer and innovation?

Dr Karen Lewis, Associate Director, Innovation, BBSRC,  and member of PraxisUnico's Board and Conference Committee (pictured) reports on this session which provided an opportunity to explore the various approaches taken by Governments (in the UK and internationally) to support innovation and deliver economic and societal benefit from publicly funded research.

Speakers include Celia Caulcott (Executive Director, Innovation and Skills, BBSRC and RCUK); Debbie Buckley-Golder (Head of Research Engagement, Innovate UK); Deirdre Glenn (Director Manufacturing, Engineering &Energy Commercialisation, Enterprise Ireland) and Yasemin Koc (Innovation Advisor, British Council).

In the UK context we heard about the Research Councils’ commitment to accelerating innovation from the UK’s excellent research base. This includes ensuring that research expertise and outcomes are accessible to business and others, as well as driving an innovation culture. The Councils and Innovate UK are working together to develop shared objectives that ensure research and innovation support is effectively dovetailed. The UK Government recognises the vital role that the commercialisation of research and new technologies play in enabling economic growth, with Innovate UK funding, supporting and connecting innovative business to enable this to happen.

In Ireland, the economy is characterised by a high percentage of SMEs and entrepreneurs, and there is a strong Government mandate to drive innovation and research commercialisation. This has helped to support recovery following the economic crisis. We heard how Enterprise Ireland provides a toolkit to support these processes. The agency also works with academics and industry to develop solutions of relevance to industry, supported by a central technology transfer office (KTI), the first of its kind in Europe.

More widely, we heard how the British Council is working in many countries across the arts, education, research and innovation to enable capacity building and support international collaboration. Programmes such as the Newton Fund are supporting innovation in emerging countries. The Council’s approach is organic and holistic, including social and policy work to understand how culture impacts on innovation.

All speakers emphasised that innovation is not a linear process. Realisation requires the right people and relationships. Successful Government support is not only about money, and sharing risk, but also catalysing sustainable, connected partnerships and activities whatever the innovation system and country context.

It’s all about the people!’ 

A copy of the presentation used in this session is available online: