N8 Industry Innovation Forum Makes Progress


Since its launch earlier this year, the N8 Industry Innovation Forum (N8 IIF) has been further developing the ideas and collaboration it was established to foster.

The N8 Industry Innovation Forum was set up in response to industry demand for a more coordinated, less fragmented offer from the research base. The Forum uses the “power of 8” – the N8 universities working together to connect academic and business partners, on a cross sector basis, to match industry needs with the latest research, science and technology solutions.

Its main objective is to create new collaborations between industry and the research base to drive innovation, competitive advantage and growth by maximising linkages and market pull between private sector R&D, industrial and consumer needs and the world-class research base within the N8 universities.

The first Forum, held in February, focused on Advanced Materials and was attended by over 100 university partners and a broad range of companies, ranging from SMEs to global blue chip companies. Discussions at the event led to a number of ideas for multi-partner collaboration and generated 25 new industry-led ideas for university research – of which four were progressed to stage II funding.

The feedback from the first Forum was highly positive, with encouraging responses from both industry and academic representatives. There were also a number of ideas for topics to be covered at future N8 forums, as well as practical suggestions for how best to develop the partnerships built up through the forum and maintain momentum following the event.

The next Forum, to be held on 21 November at the Maritime Museum, Liverpool, will focus onInnovation for Healthy and Active Ageing. The Forum will be led by industry and will focus on digital innovation for health and well-being; ageing skin; and food and nutrition.

Allan Gordon, N8 IIF Project Manager, said:

“We have had a very positive response from industry, with many of the industry leaders wishing to understand and help define the agenda.”

Companies along the supply route as well as those directly targeting consumers will play a role: among those taking part will be leading blue chip and SME companies in the Health, Wellness and FMCG sectors. Charities and other not-for-profit organisations working with older people will also be represented.

John Weir, N8 IIF Director, said:

“There are some common and exciting themes emerging from our discussions with industry leaders, we have selected academics who are expert in the theme areas to attend, and so I am looking forward to a really engaging and productive day”.

The aim of the N8 IIF is to stimulate and share ideas and insights, to help create new networks and connections and effective businesses and university collaborations, leading in turn to new business opportunities and innovations. It is working with industry to:

  • Match their challenges with research solutions, in specific topic areas.
  • Provide rapid and efficient access to “the Power of 8” by identifying the best experts to match against industry priorities and needs
  • Access new technologies and ideas at the boundaries of their core business
  • Connect with “unlikely partners” in the research base, and access cross-sector and cross-disciplinary expertise to identify new, step-changing innovations

Find out more about the N8 Industry Innovation Forum.