Witty Review – and heat maps – encourage collaboration between universities and industry

British government focuses on 11 industrial sectors, with recommendations to ‘commercialize’ academic research

Sir Andrew WittyUniversities are a major contributor to the British economy. In 2011-12, they contributed £3.4 billion through services to business, 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), as the local bodies responsible for setting strategies to drive economic growth across the country." (See Sir Andrew Witty's letter.)

The Witty Review was released on October 17.

Aerospace: Top 20 organizations (by publications). Heat maps produced by Elsevier's SciVal Analytics team are one of the tools offered by the British government to show top universities per industrial strategic sector. See all 17 maps in the presentation below.Elsevier contributed to the Witty Review by identifying where research is taking place in fields relevant to the Industrial Strategy sectors. The resulting "heat maps," produced by Elsevier's SciVal Analytics team, show the top 20 institutions and their publication volume and field-weighted citation impact (FWCI).

The review includes details of the process used for the maps along with the key findings.

Key findings

The Witty Review focuses on the relationship between universities and business and how it can drive economic growth. It references the 2003 Lambert Review and the Wilson Review 2012 and has chapters on:

  • Universities and Growth
  • The Information Base
  • Mapping Economic Activity and Research Centres
  • Universities Facilitating Economic Growth
  • Universities and SMEs
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships
  • The Role of national Innovation and Support Organisations

The review makes 10 main recommendations (Appendix A) and includes case studies from universities.

Witty supports the drive to "commercialize" research outlined in Willett's 8 Great Technologies and the Industrial Strategy. He argues for greater collaboration between universities and small and medium enterprises (SMEs), advocating "an enhanced third mission" for universities alongside research and education — to facilitate economic growth; Witty says universities should be incentivized to do this and asked to report on how they have achieved this goal. He says LEPs should put universities at the heart of the thinking and decision-making and should direct a large share of the £1 billion of European Structural and Investment Funds to universities. He also says LEPs should collaborate beyond their own area with universities, "whose cutting edge research generates economic activity through innovation."

The big idea

Witty's headline idea is for a £1 billion fund over the life of the next Parliament for "Arrow Projects," which would bring together LEPs, universities and industrial and supply-chain partners to develop "new technologies through mobilizing national clusters in fields offering significant international markets."

Witty Review recommendations

The Witty Review makes 10 recommendations to the British government starting on page 6.

He suggests that these Arrow Projects might be able to access funds from the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) Research Councils, European Structural and Investment Funds, the Regional Growth Fund and others. He also says there should be more assessment of engagement with SMEs in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and that the Higher Education Innovation Fund should incentivize working with SMEs.

The report includes case studies showing how universities are working with SMEs and maps showing SME collaboration and links with business startups.[divider]

Maps reveal research strengths

One of the recommendations by the review states:

Prospective investors in research should have online access to as much information as possible as to where there is research strength. This should include identifying research by sector and technology, and where possible by the businesses and charities funding it. It should also include further development of indicators such as citation-based measures of research strength by sector.

Here are the sectors represented, followed by the page of the map in the presentation below:

Aerospace - 3 | Automotive - 4 | Life Sciences - 5 | Agri-tech - 6 | Information Economy - 7 | Nuclear - 8 | Oil & Gas - 9 | Offshore Wind - 10 | Construction - 11 | Big Data - 12 | Satellites - 13 | Robotics - 14 | Life Sciences: Genetics and Synthetic Biology - 15 | Regenerative Medicine - 16 | Agri-Science - 17 | Advanced Materials & Nano Technology - 18 | Energy Storage - 19


Elsevier Connect Authors

Iris KisjesIris Kisjes (@Kisjes) has worked at Elsevier for seven years, the past four in communications. She is currently Senior Corporate Relations Manager, based in Amsterdam. She has a keen interest in the knowledge economy, especially in relation to the valorization of science and the longevity of the higher education system.

Sue WilkinsonSue Wilkinson is Director of Government and Academic Alliances UK at Elsevier. She joined Elsevier in January 2013 as part of Dr. Michiel Kolman's Global Academic Relations (GAR) team. The GAR team is dedicated to engaging in dialogue with key stakeholders in government and the academic community, including academies of science, research councils and university leaders. Prior to joining Elsevier, She was Director of Policy and Research at the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, where she was responsible for developing national policy and strategy in the cultural sector.

Wilkinson has an MA in History from the University of Cambridge and post-graduate qualifications in education and museum studies. She was awarded an MBE in the 2013 honors list for services to education. Sue has spoken at a wide range of cultural conferences in the UK, Europe, US and Iran and is the author of three books and numerous articles on museums and learning.

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