Our Hi-Tech Future

This was the title of yesterday’s speech delivered by David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science. It was positive to hear that science and technology lies at the heart of economic growth policy, something which I passionately believe in. Even more encouraging was the recognition that science and the arts are truly complementary. My blog The Enlightened Company (20th February 2011) reflected on this very point, some of the global technology brands of today were formed by fusing the skills of arts and science graduates. It is diversity that drives innovation and hopefully this recommendation will stimulate debate between arts and science faculties, the resultant effect being new possibilities, innovations and products – maybe a Google or Twitter?

The speech also communicated the strength of the UK’s research on the global stage and the fact that we publish more articles per researcher than the US, China, Japan or Germany. Whist this maybe the case, I do seem to recall that we are not up there when it comes to commercialisation of this research. Enhanced entrepreneurial mindset and orientation lies at the core of economic growth fuelled by science and technology focus. Much to be learned from the West Coast of the States.

Science and technological excellence is fine but if the patents, know how and IP end up overseas or sitting on a shelf then it does no good for UK jobs and growth. Greater effort needs to be directed to getting HE to think more about the commercial impact of what they do. It’s not just about spinning out companies but…how do academic staff  gain a better balance of research and selling their knowledge as consultants, attaining greater utilisation of assets that sit idle…… encouraging entrepreneurial thinking of post grads – creating more ideas and mind to market.

The reality is many university professors and academics frown upon enterprising forays and suffocate new possibilities even before they see the light of day.

A greater entrepreneurial culture will be vital to the successful execution of David Willetts’ strategy.

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4 Responses to Our Hi-Tech Future

  1. olirandell says:

    Another very insightful blog. There certainly is plenty of un-tapped opportunities to commercialise academic work. In parallel I see many business owners with a product or service focus who under-achieve commercially. For both groups I see a key role for commercial ‘business partners’ to play in boosting the success of UK businesses. It makes absolute sense to match up differential, but complimentary skill sets to get high performance.

    • johnleachwp says:

      Thanks Oli – it still amazes me that the entrepreneurial elements of commercialisation are overlooked. Especially sales and the importance of it. I seem to have spent the last 10 years of my life going on about it ! Cheers mate John

  2. Baldrick says:

    Hi John, Tell them why John. If academics are driven by kudos (i.e. papers) and not patents as a country we are no going to realise opportunities, and when the balance of academic power is moving http://bit.ly/declineofthewest . Can we afford not to change our behaviour.

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