More universities must share research with SMEs, says engineering chief

hooper300The outgoing President of Europe’s largest engineering body is calling for more universities to give small and medium sized businesses open access to the intellectual property (IP) that they create.

Professor Andy Hopper (pictured), who is stepping down after his one-year term as President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) said that tax payers were already funding the creation of innovative IP in universities, so it was reasonable to expect more of this to made available to UK SMEs that were best positioned to commercialise it.

He continued: “Universities should be encouraged and incentivised more to kick start the development of new technologies and products by openly assigning the required IP to dynamic British businesses at minimal extra cost. In return, maybe the university could get a one or two per cent shareholding – more of a goodwill gesture than a conventional transaction.  This is all perfectly possible and is happening in a number of UK universities already.”

Hopper believes this will be a big boost for SMEs that are “the engine room of the UK economy”.

He is also calling on the Government to ensure more engineers involved in decision making. In this respect, the professor, who heads up the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, said: “With the success of so much future policy based around engineering and technology, I believe that it is time for the Government to draw more on the knowledge and experience of the UK’s best engineering talent at the highest levels.”

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.

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About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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