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Barr Ellison Solicitors – commercial property
22 February, 2019 - 14:19 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge, MIT and Stanford unite to commercialise more university IP

An unprecedented UK-US push to commercialise more university IP is being championed by Cambridge Enterprise and will seek British government support in a summit on Monday (February 25).

Leading players from MIT and Stanford join Tony Raven, CEO of Cambridge Enterprise and other members of a new university powerbroking group – 6U – in meeting government figures alongside innovation & industrial strategy chiefs in Whitehall to promote the benefits of transatlantic collaboration in exploiting academic research.

Lesley Millar-Nicholson, director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office, and Karin Immergluck, executive director of Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing, have been invited by UK Research and Innovation and Cambridge Enterprise to confer with UK policymakers and university peers.

Participants in Monday’s meetings, held at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, include Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation; David Sweeney, executive chair of Research England; leaders from HMT and on Industrial Strategy as well as the heads of technology transfer at the universities of Cambridge and Manchester, Knowledge Transfer Ireland and Cancer Research UK.

Millar-Nicholson and Immergluck will join the 6U group of UK universities – Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, Manchester, Oxford and UCL— – which meets regularly to exchange strategies and best practices for commercialising research. The goal is to share expertise and identify areas for international collaboration.

Both the US and UK are committed to increasing the economic return on government-funded R & D investment. In the US, this policy is embodied in the forthcoming Return on Investment Initiative. In the UK, the Industrial Strategy has identified universities as key drivers of innovation.

Technology transfer offices play a critical part in turning early-stage, research-based inventions into products, therapeutics and services to benefit everyone. TTOs help academics solve real world problems, create jobs and attract investment in local, regional and national economies.

Millar-Nicholson, said: “The value in bringing together leaders in university technology transfer, to share best practices and discuss commercialisation strategies for translating early stage technologies into impact for society, cannot be overstated.

“Understanding the various challenges, and value drivers in different economic and innovation ecosystems, goes a long way to helping build effective and efficient translational models across the globe.”

Research England’s executive chair, David Sweeney, said: “The UK operates at the leading edge of world standard in technology transfer. But we want to build a more R & D intensive economy and effective commercialisation is a key driver towards the Government’s 2.4 per cent R & D target. So, we need to do more.

“And we need to be open to innovations and best practices from across the globe. Our American cousins are skilled at commercialisation. I look forward to learning from experts from American and UK universities with long track records and scale in technology transfer, and to comparing our world leading ecosystems, such as the Cambridge Cluster, with those of Stanford in Silicon Valley and of MIT in Kendall Square.”

Cambridge Enterprise chief executive Tony Raven added: “The UK and US universities creating this new group are world leaders in the commercialisation of university research. My UK colleagues and I are looking forward to working with Karin and Lesley in sharing, comparing and advancing international best practice in university research commercialisation for the benefit of our economies and societies locally, nationally and globally.”

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