Knowledge transfer professionals share experiences
Delegates at a recent conference heard first hand from practitioners of knowledge-transfer in the United Kingdom and Europe, how best to get great ideas to market. The experts covered the problems EU projects face taking previously owned intellectual property rights into a consortium, and offered some tips on community engagement programmes, UK-style.
Held in Birmingham (UK), the conference entitled ‘The Region: the City and the University’ was put on by Auril, the Association for University Research and Industry Links, in association with the University of Birmingham, on 29-30 September. The audience, drawn from the research community, regional development agencies and funding agencies, heard a range of presentations on the many facets of knowledge transfer.
|A little bit of knowledge goes a long way!|
Steve Skinner of the University of Bradford spoke on ‘Knowledge transfer at the heart of communities’. To embed community engagement in its operations, the University took the time to assess and consult widely to ensure that its initiatives meet the community’s needs. This has led to a higher proportion of underrepresented communities registering as students, and the University is also sending students out into the local communities, creating much-needed employment and promoting outreach.
For example, MBA students offer consulting services to local micro-enterprises and informatics students work with voluntary organisations on multimedia support for promotion and branding. Opening the University’s staff development services to local voluntary organisations is another initiative.
“The key,” Skinner told the conference, “is to work in partnership with communities and local organisations, rather than parachuting in …and only when we can add value from a University setting.” The next goal is to measure the economic and social impact these initiatives are having.
Managing growing know-how
Britta Seidel-Speer, speaking for the European Commission’s IPR-Helpdesk, described the intellectual property rights (IPR) issues affecting knowledge growth among Universities and research institutions in Europe – affecting the EU’s renewed Lisbon vow to create knowledge for growth and employment. She highlighted areas where EU project partners face confusion, and thus need to call the IPR-Helpdesk for clarification. The most common problems concern excluding pre-existing knowledge from project partners in research Framework Programme projects.
“Pre-existing know-how can be a difficult area in terms of identifying, defining and specifying it in negotiations and contracts between collaborative parties,” she noted. The IPR-Helpdesk is there to guide organisations through their consortium agreements. Some 15% of its calls and questions are on this subject. With increasing numbers of queries from the new Member States, the IPR-Helpdesk is continually developing services. “It’s clear that there’s a real and growing need for this type of assistance,” says Seidel-Speer.
The conference organiser, Auril, is the largest knowledge transfer association in Europe with 1 500 members. Based in Queens University Belfast, its members are knowledge transfer professionals working to ensure that new ideas and innovations flow from their institutions to industry and the marketplace. As well as addressing operational and training issues for its members, Auril also contributes to relevant science policy formation within the UK.
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