As the global economy continues to struggle, it becomes increasingly important to explore every potential path to recovery. One powerful but largely untapped resource is the collaboration between academia and industry.
To examine the issues and promote this collaboration, Elsevier is holding an international conference called Research Commercialisation: from Ideas to IPO May 19 and 20 in London.
The inaugural event is billed as "a new cross-discipline partnering event … for promoting university-industry-investor collaboration, technology transfer and start-ups." It will bring together academics, industrial experts, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and investors to discuss what has worked, what has failed and the roadblocks towards achieving recovery during our global economic crisis.
To attend the conference
The event: Research Commercialisation: From Idea to IPO
Dates: May 19 and 20, 2014
Registration and discount: Information and a registration form are on the conference website. The early registration deadline is April 7. In addition, Elsevier Connect readers can get an exclusive discounted rate of £670 by selecting the "Elsevier Connect" rate upon registration.
To follow on social media
Join the LinkedIn group for the conference for more detailed discussions and networking.
Speakers and topics
The event will include panels and presentations by experts from around the world. Following are some of the keynote speakers:
Phil Smith, CEO of Cisco UK & Ireland and Chairman of the UK Technology Strategy Board, will speak about Cisco's collaboration with universities, including IDEA London, a new public-private partnership that incubates and accelerates startup creation in the UK
Amanda Brooks, Director of Innovation for the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), will discuss the UK government's industrial strategy
Greg Simon, CEO of Poliwogg, will discuss cutting edge start-up crowd funding investment strategies
Anthony Boccanfuso, Executive Director of UIDP-National Academies, will talk about strategies to improve university and industry collaboration.
The rise of universities as an economic driver
The economic malaise facing us today is certainly not the first. In response to the downturn in the 1970s, the US Congress passed the Bayh-Dole Act in 1980, which gave universities the right to title on inventions created under federally funded research grants, thereby encouraging technology transfer activity to flourish and enabling the university to evolve into an incredibly powerful economic engine.
In Europe, universities are also a major driver of the economy. In 2011-12, the UK contributed £3.4 billion through business services, including commercialization of new knowledge, delivery of professional training, and consultancy, according to findings by the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey. This report prompted the British government to invite Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline and Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, to undertake an independent review "to explore how universities can support growth by working with organizations such as Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), responsible for setting strategies to drive economic growth across the country." The Witty Review, which Elsevier's Research Intelligence team helped produce, was released on October 17. (You can read about the Witty Review on Elsevier Connect.)
With a continued state of dwindling research funding, creating sustainable relationships between academia and industry to stimulate recovery has been a topic of debate at the forefront of government agendas worldwide.
In fact, a recent article in The New York Times explores a shift in how science is being paid for and practiced in the US: "Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science."
Harnessing the power of research
So how do we harness the power of all this creative research activity on a national and global scale?
- At the policy level, the goal is somewhat clear – structured programs with adequate funding to enable small business to stay afloat and the education of these services need to be expanded.
- At the investment level, clear strategies for entry and exit of a venture are required to lend confidence to those competing to foot the bill for a given technology. Also, the success and failures of these ventures need to be documented along the way for others to learn from.
- At the academic level, students and faculty need to have access to resources that enable – not hinder – investors to scale their research.
Among all key stakeholders, a clear understanding of what each party is contributing to the deal is paramount, so that the relationship can be maintained and thrive under pressure.
Elsevier Connect Contributor
Dr. Lily Khidr, organizer and program chair of this event, is an academic research scientist and a publisher for Elsevier in New York. She has also served as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Biological Sciences at Columbia University. Previously she was an editor for Nature Genetics and Science Translational Medicine. She received a BS in molecular and cell biology from the University of California, Berkeley; an MS in physiological sciences from University of California, Los Angeles, and a MS/PhD in biological chemistry from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine.
Research commercialization has been a longstanding interest for Dr. Khidr, leading her to organize this conference. She writes:
When I was on the verge of becoming a freshly minted – albeit jobless – PhD, I was looking for ways that the research contributions that I had worked on for most of my life could be amplified into an industrial setting. There were many frustrations and huge risks with this process: there was no luxury in holding a doctoral degree and lacking experience; there was no certainty that any path would become lucrative without taking an enormous risk; and the idea of getting a job and going into industry seemed more like a clip from the The Hunger Games than any sort of guarantee as it had once seemed to be.
During that journey of discovery, I submitted an application to be granted admission to an event at the National Academy of Sciences, where they would be launching an organization dedicated to building university and industry strategic partnerships: the University-Industry Demonstration Partnership (UIDP). The event inspired me to pursue this path further.
A few years ago when I joined Elsevier, I continued the mission of promoting university and industrial alliances and thought that there needed to be a centralized resource for students, faculty, entrepreneurs, investors, university and industrial management to be able to find answers to a pressing question: How do we take an invention – a proof of concept – and turn this into a viable technology that will enhance societal change, and create economic growth and jobs?
When discussions emerged around the globe about this issue, the path was clear – we need to first understand what information is required in order to provide the most authoritative resource to support this community. The quest revealed the stakeholders in this field, the key players, and how this topic is being addressed worldwide.
This conference will bring together experts from around the world who are passionate about the prospect of building sustainable partnerships among academia, industry and investors – partnerships that will support the sciences while also spurring economic growth.