Innovation Expert Appointed To Increase Impact Of University-Industry Collaboration

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The N8 Research Partnership has appointed Colin Reid as Director of the N8 Industry Innovation Forum(N8 IIF).

Set up in response to industry feedback, the N8 IIF connects industry with academics in the N8 universities to drive innovation and competitive advantage and, as a result, contribute to economic growth across northern England.

Originally from Newcastle, Colin has more than 30 years’ experience of innovation and technology management, R&D, business improvement and new product development, having held senior roles with a number of UK FTSE organisations including British Aerospace and Rolls Royce.

He also spent four years in New Zealand, working with Technology New Zealand – a government innovation agency – where he worked with technology businesses to help them realise their commercialisation objectives, refine their product development plans and source and access funding.

His responsibilities as Director of the N8 IIF will include fostering cross-sector innovation by bringing industry together with academics across the North of England to establish new research partnerships in major challenge areas such as ageing, advanced materials and industrial biotechnology.

Colin said:

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to do something that will bring a direct benefit to the North and help keep the region at the forefront of world-class research.

“The N8 IIF has been very positively received by industry and the academic world, and is an excellent example of the way in which universities and businesses can work effectively together to make a significant impact on the needs of society and contribute to economic growth.

“I am keen to broaden the engagement with industry and am really looking forward to further raising the profile of the N8 IIF among academic and industry partners to ensure it has a real and lasting impact.”

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

“Combining the best with the best – joining up the talent and expertise of university research and industry-led R&D – is how innovation comes about, which in turn can help create growth and new jobs. The N8 IIF is already starting to make an impact in some of the biggest areas facing our society today.

“I am delighted to welcome Colin on board and I am confident that he will bring his significant expertise in innovation management to bear so that new industry-university collaborations can be established in these key areas.”

The N8 IIF operates as an open innovation network, enabling new connections between academic and industry experts across disciplines and supply chains. Without pre-conceived ideas of what collaborations should be, academic and industry partners are free to generate ideas for novel approaches based on their complementary skills and their needs. The N8IIF also provides some pump-prime funding for projects to allow ideas to be developed to the point where the collaborations are self-supporting.

Since it was launched in 2012, the N8 IIF has played a role in the creation of almost 30 new innovative research partnerships. Its success to date includes four brand new industry-led multi-partner projects around advanced materials, involving academics, multinational companies and SMEs. These ideas are currently being developed and have been successful in raising £2.5m of public and private funding. A further five projects around active and healthy ageing have also emerged from the N8 IIF, which are based on partnerships between local authorities, multinationals, and charities.

To find out more about the N8 Industry Innovation Forum, click here.