Minister Jo Johnson gave evidence today in the final session of the Science and Technology Select Committee Inquiry ‘Managing IP and Technology Transfer’. Launched in July 2016, the Inquiry has heard from a range of sector stakeholders including PraxisUnico and several of our member universities. Jo Johnson opened his evidence session with the announcement that he would be adding Minister of IP to his already extensive portfolio: this means that he will oversee activities at the IPO which underpin many of his responsibilities for science, research and innovation. He also reiterated the commitment of the Government to research commercialisation demonstrated in the Autumn Statement both through funding – the Industrial Challenge Fund and an additional £100 million for commercialisation – and regulatory incentives – the reviews of SBRI, Patient Capital.
In response to questioning Mr Johnson said that the Industrial Challenge Fund would “look at areas of promise for us as an economy” those technologies in which the UK has existing advantages of scale and expertise where there is potential for “additionality” where government support can genuinely make a difference. He noted that business needed to be willing to play its part too, and that the UK had an “attractive [tax] regime” in place to do so.
Giving evidence alongside Jo Johnson was the IPO’s Acting Chief Executive, Sean Dennehey, who noted the increased uptake of the new Lambert Toolkit since its re-launch only four months ago: he attributed this to the increased scope of the template agreements and the input made by the combined business-university membership working group. Mr Dennehey also noted that guidance such as the Toolkit could only take partners so far towards their destination since “negotiating appropriate relationships” is something that companies and universities have to do themselves based on the specifics of each case.
The Select Committee will now consider the evidence it has received and make its recommendations. In the meantime, we can look forward to engaging with consultations on the Industrial Strategy (prior to a White Paper), the Small Business Research Initiative (open, deadline February 3rd), and Patient Capital.