Increasing pressure is being placed on universities to play a greater role in economic growth and development – quite right as well. A recent survey by the Insider magazine demonstrated that 67% of companies have no idea what HE have to offer in terms of commercial help. However, the majority of those SMEs that had engaged HE on a business problem rated the service offer as excellent, I can vouch for this personally.
It amazes me that there is still a massive reluctance of academics to progress industry engagement strategies – my experience is that many will do everything they can to stop commercial and enterprising activities. Last week the FT reported a movement of some 60 high-profile academics actively campaigning Government to slow down the pressure on HE to become more involved in supporting business. This really is a mystery to me. Our universities are the envy of the world, however, more needs to be done to generate revenue from knowledge and the brain power that resides in every major City in the UK.
There are number of things that universities need to do:
1. Make it easier for the commercial world to connect – create a front door
2. Make faster decisions, it is sometimes painful, waiting ages for next steps
Very simply, HE needs to sort out their shop window, what is on the shelf?what is the offer? – consultancy, research, IP, graduates, facilities…the list goes on. Universities must define their propositions clearly and tell the world what they have to offer in words that industry understand. Why cant every HE faculty have a “shop” one where the expertise is clearly communicated to the outside world?