Foreword by Lord Sainsbury o Turville
As this report clearly shows, the perormance o UK universities in knowledge transer hasdramatically improved in the last ten years and now compares avourably with universities in theUnited States. Not only have our world-class research universities maintained their outstandingrecord o research, but they are now producing a high level o patents, licensing agreements,industrial research and spin-o companies. Also around many o them, as the report vividlydescribes, high-tech clusters are growing up. These not only provide the knowledge andinormation-rich conditions which spin-o companies need to grow and be protable but alsoattract spin-in companies and oreign research institutes.It has been claimed that industrially we live on a ‘fat earth’ where geography is no longer importantand where talented individuals across the world compete on a level playing eld. But the reality isdierent. In the new global economy i high-tech companies want to be competitive, they need tolocate the key parts o their operations in knowledge and inormation-rich regions where there isa concentration o the research, creative individuals and inrastructure needed or innovation. Andthe government must adopt the policies which enable such clusters to grow and be successul.At a time when the UK needs to look or new sources o growth, providing the right conditionsor high-tech manuacturing companies and knowledge-intensive business services should be apriority, and there is an exciting opportunity or government and RDAs to build on the success thathas already been achieved.As the report makes clear our world-class research universities are already having a major economicimpact on their surrounding areas. This should not come as a surprise. I one looks at the USAone nds that the universities which have had most impact on their local economies, such as MIT,Berkeley, Stanord and Austin, are all world-class research universities.There is, however, enormous scope or business-acing universities to more actively engage withsmall- and medium-sized businesses in their regions, and government and the RDAs should makecertain that they have the incentives and resources to do so. Also a ew tentative initiatives havebeen taken in supporting knowledge transer rom FE colleges and this is something that governmentand RDAs ought now to be rapidly expanding. For many small businesses the best organisations tohelp them be more innovative and protable will be FE colleges rather than universities.At a time when it is essential to produce the best possible conditions or high-tech manuacturingto grow and be protable, there is a danger that a great deal o eort will be wasted in introducingtotally new incentives or policies. Instead o doing so, the most valuable action that governmentand the RDAs could take, as this report makes clear, is to build on what has been achieved in thelast 15 years and to encourage universities to travel urther along the exciting road on which theyhave already embarked.It is not possible to predict exactly where new jobs will emerge in the uture, but it is possible to seemany opportunities or UK industries to create new products and services, and new industries, inareas as diverse as aerospace, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, regenerative medicine, telemedicine,nanotechnology, the space industry, intelligent transport systems, new sources o energy, creativeindustries, computer games, business services, computer services and education. We can alsobe certain that many o the new businesses which will drive change in these industries will bedeveloped in the high-tech clusters around our universities.
Lord Sainsbury o TurvilleApril, 2009