Delivering a lecture titled " From University Research to Economic and Social Benefit" at IISc, Sir William Wakeham, former Vice-Chancellor of Southampton University stressed on the need for adoption of a commercial approach to university research, as ToI reported here.
Sir William noted that "for the proper exploitation of academic research, many universities in the UK have tried to come out with a model where the industry and educational institutions work closely to take research to the level of making it commercially applicable and also look beyond intellectual property rights issues"
He further added that "the universities need to undergo a cultural change to ensure that university research leads to applications that bring economic and social benefits. Universities are not generally flexible considering that they have the structure of committees. Most industrial organizations have no patience for dealing with such structure, which makes the change important. There is a need to exploit intellectual property, attract venture funding, get the most out of incubators, science parks and business managers, even while we do academics. A lot of universities could be conservative about the connection with business, but we need to break that and ensure successful commercial spin-offs"
As ToI reports,Sir Wakeham is credited for taking the value of university spin-outs at Southampton to an all-time high next only to the Stanford University. Speaking on these lines, he added :
"The approach to spin-outs has to be focused on small number of business opportunities that easily attract funds from venture capitalists or private funding agencies."
He cited the example of Imperial Innovations, a private company that was set up by the UK's Imperial College primarily responsible for transfer of technology; incubating companies and venture capital. He also cited the Southampton University's effort towards providing an entirely different model of employment to the local community for regenerating the port city of Southampton. This was done by utilising the university's niche expertise in areas such as oceanography and photonics.
While concluding he noted that " increasing innovation impact of the research base is key economic and political issue for UK. I am sure, India too is on the same path and some of these issues have a resonance with this country. The UK experience has to be examined to see how it can be applied in the Indian situation."
This lecture series was organized by IISc and Royal Commission of UK for commemorating the centenary celebrations. The lecture was delivered at IISc Bangalore, Pune, IIT Kharagpur and Jadavpur University from August 9-13, 2010.