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27 May, 2021 - 17:56 By Tony Quested

Universities across the globe engage with Cambridge Outreach proposition

University of Cambridge innovation has changed the world in so many ways and with metronomic regularity: from the launch of the first turbo jet engine to the discovery of DNA and the high speed genome sequencing pioneered by Solexa.

Scores more inventions have been taken to market with huge success following spin-out from the university.

Cambridge Enterprise supports University members in achieving knowledge transfer and research impact and has underpinned commercial progress for a fantastic variety of innovations masterminded by academic entrepreneurs.

Equally valuable but perhaps less instantly recognised is the amazing work Cambridge Enterprise undertakes to further international relations and outreach. Step forward Caroline Hyde.

As head of International Relations & Outreach, Caroline helps other universities and governments globally to learn from Cambridge Enterprise’s experience and expertise to develop and enhance their own commercialisation activities.

Caroline says: “By helping to improve technology transfer and commercialisation skills in other countries, we seek to enable other universities to deliver effective research impact and solutions to world issues.”

In her role, Caroline oversees Cambridge Enterprise’s  Research Commercialisation Open Programmes offered as both a residential and a new online programme launching in September 2021 as well as working with a number of talented and experienced associates to deliver bespoke programmes and projects internationally.

Caroline was previously CEO for Allia Future Business Centres where she established an initial innovation and incubation centre for social ventures and ‘tech for good’ companies and built out a network of four centres operating across Cambridge, London and Peterborough.

She has devoted more than 20 years working with entrepreneurship and innovation in and around Cambridge and is well networked in the Cambridge ecosystem.

A Fellow of the RSA, she joined in March 2020 and has also brought to the role previous experience working in a research, development and commercialisation department of a UK university to ensure that international partners benefit from the richest experience of engagement.

Joining two days before the first coronavirus lockdown, Caroline might have been forgiven for taking her time and easing into the role: Not a bit of it!
She immediately energised the team to explore how they could further leverage the Cambridge Enterprise experience – in terms of strengths and achievements – on the world stage.

Committed to turning global knowledge into stronger economies and motivated by creating impact, Caroline’s team works in partnership with international clients to build capacity, develop capability and unlock innovation for the benefit of economies and societies.

She says: “We leverage our experience, expertise and contacts to work alongside partners in creating solutions that are bespoke to individual contexts and challenges.

“From ecosystem reviews and innovation strategies to helping establish seed funds and upskilling technology transfer teams, we have worked with academic and government partners worldwide in Europe, Africa, Latin America, China and ASEAN countries, providing tailored support.

“We support universities, research institutes and governments worldwide to develop the knowledge transfer skills of academic researchers, early-career and experienced professionals, and those in the innovation ecosystem.

“Our reputation as one of the best knowledge and technology transfer operations in the world has been built over 50 years of helping to create societal and economic benefit from University of Cambridge research..

“We draw on that vast experience of technology transfer, entrepreneurship, and innovation support, from both inside and outside the University of Cambridge, to design and deliver a mix of open programmes and bespoke course design focused on tailored learning and useful, practical outcomes.”
 
Training

Training is a key element of the international outreach team’s brief and  covers a broad church in terms of breadth and depth, for example:- 

  • Understanding national and institution level commercialisation strategies 
  • Principles of research commercialisation 
  • Supporting, evaluating and developing early stage innovations and disclosures 
  • Negotiating and structuring technology out-licensing agreements 
  • Spin-outs, start-ups and seed funds 
  • Managing intellectual property portfolios 
  • Using consultancy to build relationships with industry 
  • Assessing, protecting and commercialising software 
  • The role of the technology transfer office in innovation ecosystems

 
The next Research Commercialisation Open Programme is scheduled to be held from 3-9 April 2022. This offers individuals a week of intensive training with Cambridge Enterprise at the University, focusing on research commercialisation.

The annual five-day course of lectures and workshops is aimed at those keen to understand the basics of how new ideas and research outcomes are commercialised at the University of Cambridge and in the wider Cambridge Cluster.

This is complemented by a new online Technology Transfer and Research Commercialisation course being launched in September 2021 on the University’s new Cambridge Advance Online professional development learning platform. One of the first four programmes to be piloted, it will be a blended programme combining self-study with live lessons.

Caroline says the courses are of particular relevance to university technology transfer staff, academic entrepreneurs, government advisers and policymakers who are developing knowledge-based economies. They may wish to spin-out or out-license new technologies, or deliver consultancy based on university expertise and knowledge from research.

Sessions are delivered by experienced trainers and practitioners with direct experience of research commercialisation, raising finance and developing knowledge-based ventures.

Cambridge Enterprise international associates – drawing on considerable academic, commercial and delivery expertise – also work with partners around the world to co-create and deliver bespoke training and professional development programmes.

Getting the proposition right in terms of the client, the territory they cover and endemic issues or areas of special interest is the prime objective for the Cambridge team.

Hence the need to tailor programmes to specific needs and geographies. No two projects are the same, as Caroline can testify after some super but contrasting initiatives for universities in areas such as Argentina, Norway Chile, China, the Lebanon and Thailand – to name just a few.

As the Cambridge Enterprise international outreach evolves, scaling ecosystems will be created around the world and Caroline is tapping into the experience of long-established Cambridge entrepreneurs to help smooth the edges – people such as St John’s Innovation Centre managing director David Gill.

David has already co-authored a White Paper looking at challenges and recommendations to support Thailand moving from a start-up to effective scale-up ecosystem and supporting those recommendations being delivered.  Caroline’s team has also worked for a Lebanon university which wanted to develop a more coherent strategy relating to Intellectual Property to support innovation. And the team are working with Shandong University in the Shibei area of China on a three-year programme to develop innovation and entrepreneurship within the University and wider ecosystem. 

Caroline concedes that she is dealing from a hand packed with aces. She observes: “Cambridge University has had decades of experience protecting Intellectual Property for academic entrepreneurs commercialising valuable research. A lot of the universities we are helping have come a lot later to the game.

“The international reputation of the excellence that abounds across the broader Cambridge Science & Technology Cluster also attracts enquiries to us from universities and governments around the world.”

The coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns in most geographies have not slowed the momentum of the outreach team. “In fact”, says Caroline, “research commercialisation is being seen as a critical economic recovery driver post-pandemic and a lot of universities and academics we deal with are extremely comfortable with collaboration online, via the telephone or Zoom so our initiatives have been able to continue apace.”

To engage with Cambridge enterprise’s International Outreach team, contact: Caroline.Hyde [at] enterprise.cam.ac.uk

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