N8 IIF Featured As Open Innovation Best Practice


The N8 Industry Innovation Forum has been featured as a best practice case study of a successful open innovation network in the ‘Collaborate to Innovate’ report, published by the Big Innovation Centre and Intellectual Property Office.

Drawn on a survey of over 200 businesses, the report highlights ways in which businesses can work with universities to generate knowledge and drive innovation.

The report says universities play a major role in supporting innovation and competitiveness but that there are gaps in university-business interactions, with many businesses finding it difficult to ‘truly collaborate with universities’. It makes a number of recommendations for how this gap could be closed, such as:

  • Adopting management practices that enable successful collaborations, including new promotion and reward structures
  • Supporting both universities and businesses to adopt new and innovative ways to work together, including those built around research, education, placements and other services
  • New models to share resources between universities and businesses
  • Open and flexible arrangements intellectual property protection strategies, and
  • Empowering academics to work with businesses.

The report also emphasises the shift from knowledge exchange to knowledge co-creation, pointing out that ‘knowledge co-creation to achieve complex objectives is of paramount importance if universities and businesses are to reap the full benefits of collaborations’.

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

“It’s extremely satisfying to see the N8 Industry Innovation Forum recognised as an effective and innovative way to bring academic and non-academic partners together, and the partnership we have with HEFCE and the Technology Strategy Board has been extremely valuable in helping to bring this about.

“The most successful collaborations are those where all partners work together to develop knowledge, increase the impact of research and create new products that help meet the societal challenges we face.  The N8 Industry Innovation Forum allows industry to effectively have a single conversation with eight universities in specific areas. As a result, new ideas and ground-breaking technologies are being developed through collaboration, focussed on key areas such as Advanced Materials, Ageing and Industrial Biotechnology.”

Read the full report here.

Read more about the N8 Industry Innovation Forum here.