Last night, to the PraxisUnico Chairman’s Dinner, held in a room overlooking the lovely gardens of Worcester College, Oxford. The guest speaker was Will Hutton, writer, journalist, habitue of the corridors of power, and recently appointed Principal of Hertford College, Oxford.
Ably led by the PraxisUnico Chairman, Phil Clare, and with thought-provoking comments from Will Hutton, we had a stimulating discussion of university knowledge transfer and its place in the future of the UK economy. The Chatham House Rule prevents this blogger from attributing comments to individuals, but among the themes discussed were:
- the role of General Purpose Technologies (GPTs), and whether and how UK Government policy should seek to support the development of GPTs;
- the extent to which we should adopt an Open Innovation model for university knowledge transfer;
- the role of HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund) funding, the rules around its use, and its relationship to general Government funding of research;
- how one could or should measure the success of knowledge transfer activities, and how one might demonstrate that Government funding in this area had been well-spent; and
- the role of university knowledge transfer managers as scouts for finding new technologies that will support the UK economy.
This blogger wondered whether there should be a controlled experiment to see whether funding of university knowledge transfer had been successful. This might involve giving funds to one university and withholding them from another, and seeing how well each of them does. Volunteers, anyone?