2017 brought an alphabet of opportunities for the National Centre and its members as we focus on ever great improvements in university-business collaboration. In the spirit of Christmas, here are ten things of interest to NCUB members and the team in Tiger House.
Autumn Statement 2016 brought additional funding for science and innovation and a clear focus on their role in the future of the UK.
Brexit has consumed endless attention but, more immediately, the new Business Industrial Strategy and Energy Department (BEIS) will be responsible for the Government policy and funding for UKRI and for economic development at a national level.
Chancellor Philip Hammond has a key role in preparing the UK for life outside the opportunities and constraints of the EU. He has already demonstrated a clear ambition to put science and innovation at the heart of his plans so the National Centre’s interests in university-business collaboration will be in the spotlight.
Devolution in business-university collaboration has been in place for many years. 2016 saw Sir Ian Diamond’s review of higher education in Wales and a major review of skills and enterprise in Scotland, each of which promises important reforms. NCUB continues its major Growing Value Scotland Programme and is at an earlier stage in an important Growing Value Wales initiative.
English regions are experiencing new levels of interest through science and innovation audits across the UK and through increased levels of devolution in some cases.
Faster, technology-based, approaches to university business relations are now well advanced at NCUB. The BrandU and Konfer platforms promised big advances in matching demand and supply for student placements and research commercialisation.
Greg Clarke has been appointed Secretary of State for BEIS, bringing a fresh emphasis on industrial strategy and place-based innovation. He also brings together an exciting new range of Government responsibilities spanning business and energy.
Higher Education and Research legislation is currently making its way through Parliament. It will lead to a significant reform in the funding of science and innovation with the creation of a new body, UK Research and Innovation. The National Centre looks forward to building relationships and collaborations with the new organisation.
Innovation Centres in Scotland were the subject of a review I led for the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). I drew extensively on the results of NCUB’s Growing Value Scotland programme to short-circuit what could otherwise have been a lengthy process. I was delighted when my report to the SFC was the subject of a debate in the Scottish Parliament in November 2016.
Jo Johnson remains the Minister with most direct oversight of NCUB’s field of interest. He has announced plans to create a High Level Forum to advise him on the Brexit dimension of science, innovation and higher education and of course he is the man responsible for new legislation on higher education and research.