Collaboration Is The Key For Encouraging A British Invention Revolution


Universities have ‘extraordinary potential’ to enhance economic growth, Sir Andrew Witty has concluded in the report “Encouraging a British Invention Revolution”.

His review, looking into the role of universities and growth, calls for increased incentives for universities to embrace a stronger role in economic growth, and for our universities, businesses and government agencies to collaborate, rather than compete, to be successful in a global race.

Sir Andrew Witty also advocates a £1 Billion investment in ‘Arrow Projects’ – these would combine an arrow tip of leading research with an arrowhead of linked economic activity to develop new technologies with significant international markets.

The N8 Research Partnership submitted evidence to the Review, highlighting some of the ways that the N8 universities are already leading new national research partnerships involving academics, multi-national companies and SMEs, for example in some of the projects to emerge from the N8 Industry Innovation Forum.

Chris Brink, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University and Chair of the N8 Board, said:

“The Review highlights the possibilities of universities, both collectively and individually to enhance economic growth, and we welcome the call for further incentives and a specific fund for Arrow Projects to do that. Given the increasing sums being invested by our international competitors and extraordinary potential of universities to support growth highlighted by Sir Andrew Witty, the Arrow Project fund must be in addition to existing budgets in order to strengthen, rather than dilute our ability to win in global markets”

The report also concludes that universities should also have a role in Local Enterprise Partnerships as well as Enterprise Zones and Growth Hubs.

Trevor McMillan, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University and Chair of the N8 Executive Group said:

“We welcome the focus on eliminating regional barriers and combining leading research and business activity through Arrow Projects. This is what the N8 is about.

“We are leading on developing new technologies through collaboration. The N8 Industry Innovation Forum allows industry to effectively have a single conversation with eight universities in specific areas, such as Advanced Materials, Ageing and Assisted Living, and these conversations have created new ideas, partnerships and investments for the UK to develop world leading innovations.

“We have already taken steps to fast-track SME needs in specific areas, where the N8 universities have strengths and the UK has new technologies and significant SME base. Between them, Regener8, our translational centre for Regenerative Medicine, and METRC, which is focused on molecular engineering, along with the N8 Industry Innovation Forum have worked with over 530 SMEs, providing a single entry point to the power of eight world class universities. All of our partner universities play a significant role in their local economies, with a university presence on LEP Boards, and we welcome the recommendations to support further joint working beyond a LEP’s own area to deliver economic and research benefits.”