IOP workshop generates innovative ideas as physicists meet business leaders

30 June 2015

Business leaders from 14 companies came together to look to physics for solutions to business problems at the University of Durham on 18 June, with half of them committing to working up two industry–academic collaborative projects as a result.

IOP workshop generates innovative ideas as physicists meet business leaders

Run in partnership with the university and its Biophysical Sciences Institute, the IOP’s event was a pilot of a new knowledge exchange programme aimed at taking an active role in building innovation partnerships between academia and business.

Delegates heard from speakers (including IOP council member and former global director at Procter and Gamble, Prof. Michael Duncan) how interdisciplinary open innovation can be harnessed to drive profitable growth, and how seemingly unconnected commercial problems can often be reduced to the same fundamental science. They then participated in workshops with physicists to look for overlapping areas of interest.

Companies taking part included medium-scale businesses as well as global giants such as PepsiCo and Fujifilm.

The Institute’s head of science and innovation, Anne Crean, said: “The IOP’s inaugural open-innovation workshop was a test case to connect businesses and physicists to solve industry problems. Our focus was generating industry-led interdisciplinary projects with clear routes to market – projects with potential for real economic impact.”

IOP workshop generates innovative ideas as physicists meet business leaders
Left to right: IOP regional officer Alex Brabbs, Prof. John Girkin, Prof. Brian Tanner, Anne Crean, Prof. Michael Duncan, Tim Hammond