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11 June, 2008 - 05:10 By News Desk

Cambridge team to investigate how much R & D goes unrecorded

The missing links in the Research & Development performance of East of England companies are being sought in a new study by the Centre for Business Research at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School.

The CBR team is launching a survey of over 800 companies across the region to discover how much R & D goes unrecorded in official statistics because it is paid for – explicitly or implicitly – by customers.

David Connell, senior research associate for CBR, who is leading the research team, said: “Science and technology based companies have a crucial role to play in the future of the British economy but much of Government policy thinking to help the sector is based on false assumptions about how it operates.” The contribution to the regional economy of the big four consultancies, Cambridge Consultants, The Technology Partnership, PA Technology and Sagentia, is well known. Together with their spin-offs, they have directly generated over 7000 jobs.   However, the CBR team has already identified many other, more specialist, firms across the region with a similar approach to R & D. These companies are operating in fields as diverse as biotechnology and automotive engineering. Connell said: “A good deal of R & D is unrecorded by the official statistics either because it takes the form of a paid contract or because it is included in the purchase price of specialised, custom products whose development is only completed once the sale is made. This kind of R & D often provides the basis for substantial growth later on.” The team believes the project will have an important impact on government policy. The centre already has a good track record in this regard. Professor Alan Hughes, director of CBR is a member of the Council for Science and Technology which advises the Prime Minister.   Similarly, David Connell’s proposals for a programme of US style public sector “innovation contracts”, originally launched four years ago when he was chairman of TTP Ventures, were adopted by the Government in March.

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