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Committee of Vice Rectors of Polish Universities, Lodz - June 2012 Commercial Opportunities from University Research Experience from Oxford Tim Cook University.

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Presentation on theme: "Committee of Vice Rectors of Polish Universities, Lodz - June 2012 Commercial Opportunities from University Research Experience from Oxford Tim Cook University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Committee of Vice Rectors of Polish Universities, Lodz - June 2012 Commercial Opportunities from University Research Experience from Oxford Tim Cook University of Oxford Director - Isis Innovation, (Managing Director 1997 – 2007) Associate Fellow - Saïd Business School, (Visiting Professor of Science Entrepreneurship 2006 -2009)

2 Summary  Knowledge Transfer (KT) is important for Universities, business and society  It’s all about people Vision and interpersonal skills are crucial  Modest investment in KT can give large returns Because universities have a lot of unexploited potential  Some supporting evidence From fifteen years in an ancient university

3 What are the opportunities?  “University” covers a wide range of institutions They all teach Some train Most research  Opportunities from a particular institution depend on: Resources available  Financial, personal and intellectual Abilities & attitudes of staff  both academic and administrative

4 How big is the opportunity?  If we add together the amount of money spent on research in Universities we will get a huge sum You will know better than I do what it is in Poland In the UK it is £1.5bn (zl 8bn) of taxpayers’ money  What can the taxpayer expect for this? Educated students and perhaps some economic impact  I am not disregarding the economic impact of education but teaching is funded from a different budget This talk is about the commercial impact from the Research Budget

5 What is the function of university research?  The creation, recording and dissemination of new knowledge  Is it irresponsible to divert clever people from this to create commercial opportunities?  Of course it would be irresponsible but It is possible to manage commercialisation Without disrupting academic activity


7 Potential recipient of the idea Originator of the idea Potential recipient of the idea Transferring ideas Intermediary Boss(es) Resources Originator of the idea

8 So why is it difficult?  Transferring an idea (invention, procedure, service) from one environment to another is a cross-cultural activity  KT is not the main priority of academics or industrialists  Academics are fully employed doing what they do In the case of a researcher – research In the case of a teacher – teaching  Potential recipients are busy doing what they do Running the company, dealing with their bosses / shareholders etc. And probably don’t see a need for outside ideas anyway

9 Why is it difficult 2?  Not only are the sources & recipients busy  There is a shortage of cross-cultural intermediaries  The intermediaries are under-resourced  Those allocating resources aren’t sure they want to do it anyway!

10 Barriers to commercialisation  Everybody is busy And feels under-resourced  Single track careers Few move back and forth between industry or academia  Different value systems Between industry and academia

11 Different value systems Commercial World  Corporate activities must be integrated  Much commercial confidentiality  Investors expect financial returns Academia  Actions are necessarily independent  Quality & quantity of Publications  Funders fund activity not returns

12 Action plan Plan A (not successful!)  Tell universities to be more “business-like” “Any competent industrial manager could soon sort them out”  Tell industrial companies to support universities “Why don’t companies just give us more funding?”  Plan B  Understand the value and values of both cultures  Support interfaces that use their unique strengths

13 Develop the interface  To set up a collaboration between a non-German speaking Frenchman and a non-French speaking German needs more than just a translator  We need someone who can explain French attitudes to life in German to the German and vice versa  My first choice would be someone who had lived for some years in each country and understood how their different societies work  Isis Project managers have PhDs & commercial experience

14 It is not all new  There have always been commercially adept academics 1959 Martin Wood spun Oxford Instruments out of Oxford University 53 years later: Market capital £600m (zl3bn), 1,500 employees  There are many other examples from different universities but  Considering the research spend there are not many  A more effective support system can achieve a better return on this investment


16 Where do you put the support?  University Knowledge Transfer Office Some universities have an internal office funded by the university essentially a “service department”  Knowledge Transfer Company, Wholly owned by a University E.g. Oxford, Cambridge and many others  Knowledge Transfer Company, Partially owned by a University E.g. Imperial College, London Raising external investment gives more resource External investors will expect to have an input (may be positive or negative)  Privately owned Knowledge Transfer Company By developing close relationships with one or more universities  Entrepreneurial individuals can create value for universities & themselves  Public Sector Organisation Can provide creative investment of public resources

17 Advice to KTOs  Always operate in the environment as it is I don’t understand your individual environments  But I know they are complex In 1997 I didn’t understand Oxford University  But I knew it was complex  Remember that there are only three participants The originator of the idea or service The potential recipient of the idea or service The intermediary (and those assigning resources)  Our challenge, as promoters of KT, is to help all of the above want to do it enough to change their behaviour

18 Convincing researchers - so they are prepared to get involved  They need to believe it is worth their time Internal (and external) marketing  They need to believe you will help them Demonstration of success  They need to believe the KTO is competent Employ competent staff! Demonstrations of previous success (but in their values)  They are trusting you with something they care about Their ideas and their time

19 Convincing recipients - so they talk to you  They need to know & remember you exist External marketing of the institution and the KT portal  They need to trust you Demonstration of success  They need to believe you are competent Employ staff who can relate to industrialists Demonstrations of your success (but in their values) They are trusting you with something they care about Their time

20 Convincing our own University - so it allocates some resources This is the hardest one!  Identify potential contribution to the institution’s success Universities all need to demonstrate “impact”, so focus on it Regular report to Rector (good news on the front page!)  Recruit influencers in University Seek their advice Help them identify with what you are trying to do  Work hard on detractors If your activity is well run you will eventually convince (most) of them

21 Raising resources Sell the vision Raise resources Use new resources wisely & so expand expectations Raise expectations Raise more resources


23 Isis Innovation 2000 - 2012

24 Isis Innovation 1997 - 2012





29 How it looks from the University


31 Culture Change  All three must proceed together but the University must lead the change because.. 1.The ideas are in the University If the University provides KT resource, change will happen faster Oxford pre-Isis 1 spin-out every 4 years, post-Isis 4 per year 2.If the University doesn’t lead, the University may not receive its share of the benefits Entrepreneurial culture of researchers University knowledge transfer resource Local professional environment

32 Executive (policies) Other academics Gene pool Commercially active academics The University Knowledge Transfer Office

33 Students Brokers Itinerant Managers Consultants A “sub-culture” in a “barter economy” Investors Lawyers Head hunters PR agent Real estate Leasing Banks Accountants Specialist suppliers Other start-ups

34 Who benefits from Knowledge Transfer?  University Reputation, interactions for students, royalties, spinout shares  Researchers Technology, royalties from licences/consultancy and spinout shares  Research Funding Sponsorship From spinouts and licensees  Industry New technology  Economy New industries and new technology to existing ones  Investors who engage with Universities High returns on world class science

35 Conclusions  Opportunities exist in Universities for: Economic development Wealth creation both for the institution and for individuals  To realise these benefits needs competent intermediaries and facilities  The allocation of appropriate expertise & resources is essential for success  And will produce a substantial return for Universities, Researchers and the Economy

36 Thank you Contact

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