Business and university leaders are joining forces to discuss the benefits of easier movement between academia and industry.

The National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), supported by Research England, as part of UKRI, has brought together the Taskforce to produce recommendations on how improving researcher mobility could enhance innovation outcomes across universities and businesses.

The Taskforce will explore the extent to which researchers move across sectors, collect evidence demonstrating the benefits of this mobility, and identify both the obstacles which limit movement, and best practice to enhance it. It will then make recommendations to improve future mobility and knowledge and experience sharing. The Taskforce will report in summer 2023.

The Taskforce will be co-chaired by Professor Karen Holford CBE, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University and Sam Laidlaw, Executive Chair of Neptune Energy. They will be joined by senior representatives of Arup, Amazon, BT, the Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC), Evotec, Oracle, and the universities of Exeter, Heriot-Watt, Oxford and Sheffield Hallam.

Taskforce University Co-Chair Karen Holford, Vice Chancellor at Cranfield University, said:

“The barriers that prevent highly-skilled innovators within industry from entering academia have long hindered the creativity and development potential of university-led research.

“We know that when we do bring in the perspective and know-how of industry, we are able to improve the outcomes of university-led R&D and shake up diversity and working cultures within academia.  We need to enable this to happen more often, to facilitate seamless transition of staff between academia and industry.  For higher education, teams of staff with a range of backgrounds and varied experiences will undoubtedly help accelerate next-generation innovation.”

Business Co-Chair Sam Laidlaw, Executive Chair of Neptune Energy, said:

“Business leaders know how important academic knowledge is to the success of their research and development, but barriers to staff mobility limit the collaboration necessary for the pace of innovation the UK requires.

“It is not enough to sit back and say that there are barriers without doing anything about it.

“This Taskforce will review current practices and barriers, and make recommendations to enable people and ideas to flow better between the sectors.”

Endorsing the Taskforce, Research England Executive Chair Professor Dame Jessica Corner said:

“Without movement both ways between industry and academia, we risk stifling creativity and innovation in both sectors. We also limit the potential to increase R&D in the UK and the related growth and productivity gains from this, as well as broader societal prosperity.

“If we are to promote economic and social growth, then we need to make the most of the talented individuals we have. Improving mobility of people will improve the flow of knowledge and innovation to where it is most needed. I look forward to hearing how businesses and universities can address their barriers and enablers.”