The N8 Industry Innovation Forum (N8IIF)

The Industry Innovation Forum is an initiative between the N8 Research Partnership, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Innovate UK to connect leading businesses with research intensive universities and other key organisations and networks involved in innovation.

The initial partners of the N8IIF were the N8 research-intensive universities and global firms involved with research and development, including AstraZeneca, Croda, National Nuclear Laboratory, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Siemens, Smith & Nephew and Unilever. In addition, many SMEs have participated in forums leading to new collaborations with N8 academics.

The N8 Industry Innovation Forum maximises linkages and market pull between private sector R&D, industrial and consumer needs and the world class research base in the UK.

The Forum also acts as a catalyst for open innovation by:

  • Matching industry needs with world-leading science solutions and possibilities.
  • Creating ideas, insights, innovations and business opportunities through an agglomeration of talent and expertise.
  • Enabling cross sector innovation and knowledge exchange from a broad range of R&D companies

What does the Forum do?

Based on business feedback, the main objective of the N8IIF is to create new collaborations between industry and the research base to drive innovation, competitive advantage and growth.

The N8 IIF demonstrates the N8 Research Partnership’s core focus and commitment to supporting industry in the commercialisation of science and technology.

Forum meetings are held on specific themes chosen by businesses where there is a need to match industry challenges and ideas with new insights and solutions from the research base.

Discussions with industry partners highlighted that advanced materials was an area where industry was looking for new and exciting possibilities from the research base across a range of sectors. The first N8 IIF event, held in February 2012, focused on this and through a series of industrial challenge led discussions, new industry to industry and industry to academic partnerships were created.

The second N8 IIF meeting, held in November 2012, covered active and healthy ageing. Involving over 100 senior figures from industry, charities, the NHS and N8 group of universities, the event focused on digital innovation for health and wellbeing, ageing skin and food and nutrition.

The N8 IIF is also focussing on Industrial Biotechnology, which was the theme for the third meeting held in October 2013.

The following N8 IIF meeting took place in October 2014 in York and focused on Achieving a Sustainable Food.

Industry partners benefit from utilising the combined expertise and capabilities of the N8 Research Partnership, which provides an opportunity for efficient and effective access to the N8 science base in a unique manner.

After each forum meeting, follow up activities develop the ideas with the greatest potential and interest in order to stimulate new research and development collaborations.

More recently, a forum held by N8 with CRODA scientists in 2015 identified multiple collaborative opportunities. The Forum facilitated partnering process is being utilised within the N8 Policing Research Partnership, and the N8 AgriFood Resilience Programme.