The N8 Industry Innovation Forum was launched by the then Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts at a dinner in Leeds on January 31, 2012, with the first Forum event, focusing on Advanced Materials, held on February 1, 2012.
The event was delivered in conjunction with the Chemistry Innovation and Materials Knowledge Transfer Networks, and was heavily oversubscribed with 110 attendees.
The Forum meeting focused on eight topics which received the greatest industry interest across a range of sectors, and in which the N8 universities had academic expertise.
The meeting was split into facilitated groups to discuss each topic in detail and brought together both competitors and new collaborators - including Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Smith & Nephew and BAE Systems - with world-leading advanced materials specialists from the N8 universities.
At the event more than 25 ideas for industry-lead R&D were generated, and through a stage-gate filtering process we have invested time and pump priming support on the nine areas where there was greatest interest from industrial partners.
Over the past three years the ideas have advanced and this area has since been designated a Great 8 Technology area. Four strong collaborations have been developed with both SME and multinational companies involved, submitting research grant proposals totalling approximately £12 million. Several proposals have been successful so far, including the Open Innovation Hub for Antimicrobial Surfaces.
"The Industry Innovation Forum is an excellent example of the benefits of collaboration across the higher education sector. This initiative will give companies of all sizes access to the resources and expertise of eight research-intensive universities, driving innovation and providing them with informed solutions to the challenges they face."
- Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts