Why businesses and universities should work together

There is a long-standing view that our universities are places where students go to learn theory and are a source of potential talent but have little to offer businesses directly. Where perhaps in the increasingly distant past universities were guilty of being aloof, this is a view that is increasingly outdated and many companies could be missing out on a wide range of opportunities that could help their businesses to grow – such as developing innovative new products and services, accessing highly-skilled talent and facilities and the commercialising of intellectual property.

Last year the Government commissioned a report into how universities and businesses should work with each other more closely. The ‘Encouraging a British Invention Revolution’ review, written by Sir Andrew Witty, the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, concluded that universities need to focus on working closely with SMEs, as well as making economic growth a top priority. Sir Andrew’s review also recommended universities engage with Local Enterprise Partnerships to link with local businesses in research and development. As well as leading on collaborative research programmes that would develop technologies to give UK businesses a competitive advantage in global markets.

This view that universities offer a rich seam of growth opportunities was reinforced recently by the creation of the Small Business Charter following a recommendation by Government business adviser Lord Young. The charter was established to recognise the efforts of business schools to work in collaboration with SMEs to deliver growth...[click here to read more]