UK SMEs Should Have Free Access to Universities’ Tax-Payer-Funded Intellectual Property, Says IET President

October 5, 2012 – 3:54 pm

The open access movement in Britain and elsewhere has called for free access to university research that has been funded by taxpayers. This week, the new President of The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) took this notion further by arguing that UK universities should provide free access to its intellectual property, infrastructure and facilities to UK small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Since the public have already funded the creation of the IP, they should not have to pay twice, he said in his inaugural speech at IET London.

Professor Andy Hopper, head of Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory, is a serial entrepreneur who has cofounded over 12 startups. During his inaugural speech, he focused on the importance of SMEs in the UK economy and how a closer relationship between universities and companies can spur economic growth. He also offered his perspective on innovation.

Hopper also said that engineering is still a undervalued profession in the UK. He criticised the UK government for not having any engineers in the Cabinet and poor representation across Parliament. The UK government should also appoint a chief engineering and technology adviser to the government – similar to the chief technology officer in the US government, he argued.

The video of the inaugural speech is available on demand on the IET website.

Do you agree that universities have an obligation to share their intellectual property, as well as infrastructure and facilities, (if funded by taxpayers) with SMEs?  Do you have other suggestions for how to increase collaboration between business and universities? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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  1. 2 Responses to “UK SMEs Should Have Free Access to Universities’ Tax-Payer-Funded Intellectual Property, Says IET President”

  2. Yes, absolutely. Vast quantities of government money (i.e. tax-payers money) are spent on research at universities and yet these organisations often behave as though they were private businesses and demand unrealistic terms for access to their IP and facilities, considering they risked precious little in terms of _their own_ cash and resources acquiring it.
    Furthermore, spin-outs with close ties to universities often enjoy highly preferential (essentially tax-payer subsidised) terms for access to expensive and complex equipment and facilities and therefore are able to undercut privately held businesses who are trying to provide similar services. Most irritating of all is that such spin-outs are frequently managed with an ‘academic’ rather than ‘commercial’ mind-set, providing a poor-quality service which destroys rather than creates valuable return on investment!

    By Ben Chaffey on Oct 11, 2012

  3. Problem is IP arrangements within Unis. Latter will not get any money for freebies

    By bod on Oct 11, 2012

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