Case Study 2: Communications Research Network 19

НазваниеCase Study 2: Communications Research Network 19
Дата конвертации30.10.2012
Размер0.66 Mb.
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Executive Summary

In 2000, the UK Government invited the University of Cambridge and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to form a joint venture that would work with other universities to look for ways to enhance competitiveness in the UK.

Funded through the predecessors to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, with additional financial support from the public and private sectors, The Cambridge-MIT Institute (CMI) set out to enhance competitiveness and innovation by improving knowledge exchange between universities and industry.

CMI worked with over 100 universities and more than 1000 companies and public enterprises on a series of challenging projects involving education, research and knowledge exchange. If there is a single message that emerges from CMI, it is that the integrated system of activities at a university – the constructive interplay of education and research, and formal and informal engagement with industry and enterprise – has the greatest potential to substantially enhance knowledge exchange and accelerate innovation.

Education for Innovation

CMI set out to accelerate innovation by developing courses – both undergraduate and graduate – that gave students an understanding and appreciation of innovation, and the skills and knowledge that they will need in their roles as knowledge exchange agents, innovators and potential future entrepreneurs.

Significant curriculum developments, including six innovative new interdisciplinary Master’s degrees integrating science, technology and management studies were facilitated. Over 350 students have already graduated from these programmes. At an undergraduate level, ‘Enterprisers’ has provided new awareness and skills, and encouraged the rapid growth of student-run innovation clubs and competitions. Over 30 spin-outs have been generated by this course alone.

Innovation also needs individuals who are comfortable to cross boundaries between disciplines. CMI drew on its interdisciplinary research programmes in the development of new courses in biological engineering and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), two interdisciplinary areas of research and industry that are growing rapidly, and where the UK has both academic and commercial excellence.

Key findings from the Education for Innovation programme include insights into how to better prepare students for their roles as future entrepreneurs, through education that develops a firm understanding of a relevant field of study, professional confidence through hands-on experience, and the development of entrepreneurial skills.

Knowledge Integration in Research

Even the best research will do little for innovation if it is unknown territory for the businesses and enterprises which can build on it to create new products and services. CMI supported research that met the usual criteria of peer review, but also required “consideration of use”. This reflected the guiding principle that benefits flow from the consideration of the needs of society and industry during the design of research. Researchers must nevertheless maintain a strong connection to underlying science, so that they can understand when to “pull through” important new ideas.

Research into new biomaterials for bone substitutes, for example, has led to a spin-out company, OrthoMimetics. Its products, developed in conjunction with surgeons, have the potential to dramatically extend the lifetime of bone and joint replacements.

The creation of Knowledge Integration Communities (KICs) proved particularly fruitful. These substantial research programmes explicitly involved external stakeholders from industry, government, nongovernmental organisations and other universities in the UK to bring together all the participants needed to address a challenge and to accelerate innovation.

A good example of the KIC approach is the Silent Aircraft Initiative which addressed the major challenge of reducing aircraft noise. A multi-disciplinary transatlantic team of researchers working closely with companies, user groups and regulators developed radical new technologies, designs and ways of working which are already being adopted.

Key findings in the Knowledge Integration in Research programme include how to translate research into a more important instrument of innovation and knowledge exchange by encouraging the pursuit of fundamental new ideas in the context of consideration of use; by increasing awareness of the needs of society, industry and enterprise; and by developing integrated communities of students, scholars, industry and enterprise.

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