PraxisUnico: A round-up of PraxisUnico activities (September 2011)

13 September


Douglas Robertson led an after dinner discussion at the CBI ICARG in Southampton. A short presentation was made covering the following topics.

The contribution of spin-outs to technology transfer underlining that although it was only one aspect it was a potentially important one with around 70 spin-outs since 2003 having gone to trade sale or IPO with a valuation in excess of £4.8bn which will soon be doubled with the acquisition of Autonomy by HP if that proceeds to conclusion. There are several hundred other spin-outs that are in various stages of development and maturity.

A brief review of the University Challenge Fund Scheme based on the work by Anne Dobree of Cambridge Enterprise followed.   Launched in 1999, by 2008 £60m had been invested in over two hundred businesses through 617 investments at seed or pre-seed stage leveraging over seven times (£433m) and allowing universities to develop their strategies in this area. Like many other highly successful initiatives the scheme was not taken further. Maybe now is the time?

Attention was drawn to a new DEMOS (click here for  further information)working paper by Mariana Mazzucato who cautions that a simple deficit reduction strategy and a retreat by the public sector is insufficient. Mazzucato provides a compelling analysis of SBRI, DARPA etc in the US and underlining the huge scale of high risk early stage investments by the public purse in the private sector by the strongest 'free market' economy in the world. Mazzucato presents evidence on the role of the public sector as a producer of innovation. In his view the role of government is not to address market failure but to create new markets by enabling the right network of private and public sector to emerge.  There is an opportunity to join the debate on the PraxisUnico LinkedIn Group.

Finally, the interesting development by Glasgow University and others in Easy Access IP (click here for more information)

The question was then posed on future policy and lessons learned.

What do you think?  Continue the discussion on the PraxisUnico Linked In Group.



We’ve also been speaking to the TSB (Technology Strategy Board) and have had some interesting discussions about opportunities for a more strategic closer collaboration – some exciting projects are being hatched!

BIS Research and Innovation Strategy Working Group

BIS, working in conjunction with CIHE, ran two workshops in London in early September on the University-Business interface.  Phil Clare and Douglas Robertson attended on behalf of PraxisUnico.  The workshops, whilst small, brought together a wide variety of players including UK Space Agency, BIS, university-consortia, PVCs, translators, technology transfer organisations/companies and intermediate organisations.  The workshops are part of a process being put in place as work commences in detail on a government paper on research and innovation which will probably be released before the end of the year. 

BIS is open to ideas of what could be changed, improved and built upon.  It is clear that public finances remain tight. There is a strong focus and recognition of the need to focus more attention on the business side and on emerging technology businesses.  If you have any comments that you like to contribute to these debates then in addition to any normal routes you may use please feel free to bring those ideas forward through PraxisUnico.  Please email


The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is consulting with us to help them shape a university engagement programme through which it hopes to raise awareness and understanding of IP.  It believes that this is key to achieving an IP savvy graduate workforce who can use IP to deliver growth for the UK.  Part of PraxisUnico’s involvement will be around helping the IP to evaluate the UK’s knowledge exchange effectiveness both in the UK and internationally.

Leadership Foundation

We’re hoping to be working with the Leadership Foundation to continue to explore common research management and leadership development interests.  Plus, we are also speaking at a pilot programme offered by the Leadership Foundation senior research managers: The Research Managers Programme.  Tuesday 8 - Wednesday 9 November 2011 Module Two: Friday 9 December 2011 (further details are available on the PraxisUnico website).