Improving the commercialisation of research

14 March 2013

The Institute of Physics (IOP) has welcomed the report Bridging the valley of death: improving the commercialisation of research, published on 13 March by the Science and Technology Committee of the House of Commons.

Oxford Instruments staff

IOP President Professor Sir Peter Knight said, “This report addresses a vital issue for the UK.  We have an outstanding research base in this country, and translating it into application is vital for the UK economy if we are to achieve the growth in high technology output and employment that we all want to see. 

“With physics central to key technologies used in, for example, telecommunications, big data, robotics, advanced materials and energy projects, physics-based sectors already account for 8.5% of Gross Value Added in the UK and employ more than one million people.  The Science and Technology Committee’s report highlights a number of recommendations which would help to maintain and grow that contribution.

“In particular, IOP strongly supports recommendations that government should resource the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to provide local level advice to technology businesses and find a way to ensure access for small businesses to large scale test and experimental production facilities.

“We also welcome the Committee’s recognition that UK universities constitute a world class research base, highly attractive to foreign businesses. 

“While it is vital to exploit this resource for the benefit of our society and economy, there is a real risk that focusing relentlessly on apparent impact puts at risk the quality of our research base, achieved over many years through a focus on funding excellent science.

“We therefore endorse the Committee’s concern that driving an innovation agenda too aggressively through universities may have diminishing returns with regard to commercialisation, and, as the Committee says, ‘risk damaging the academic research that is working well.’”

IOP submitted written evidence to the Committee’s enquiry in February.