Professor Steve West, Chair of University Alliance welcomed the report from the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee on Business-University Collaboration.
“This is an important review for which the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee should be commended – particularly for the thorough approach it undertook in understanding what is required for effective business-university collaboration. We were pleased to see Committee members engage fully with the sector particularly through visits to Alliance institutions Coventry and Oxford Brookes Universities who are among the leaders in the field in business-university collaboration.
“University Alliance agree with many of the review’s conclusions, in particular the call to increase R&D investment in the UK to 3% of GDP by 2020. The current level of 1.72% of GDP is far below the OECD average and the EU target of 3%.
“We also welcome the Committee’s findings that there needs to be better understanding of models that link Catapult Centres to excellent research throughout the UK university sector. We support the call for increased funding for innovation, particularly through initiatives and bodies such as HEIF and Innovate UK – as long as this is not at the expense of other elements of the science budget.
“Innovation activities depend on a strong research ecosystem, and fundamental research is an essential part of this. However, we strongly disagree with any suggestion of directing this cash towards fundamental research only taking place in the Top 10 institutions – we urge the government to continue to fund excellent research wherever it is found.
“It is important to break down barriers between universities and businesses which is why we recommended to the review that every university should have a single point of contact for businesses that are seeking to collaborate – as all Alliance universities do.
“We’ll be making the same argument over the next crucial few months, especially with the imminent Autumn Statement and the publication of the results of the REF 2014 exercise. As the Committee concludes, the impact element of the REF will be vital in demonstrating the wider value of university research to the economy and society which is why we believe that funding should always follow excellence.”