“Research and innovation are the future of our world,” said David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England, addressing a warmly receptive audience at Ideas to Reality 2019 in the Great Hall of King’s College.
Ideas to Reality, which Cambridge Enterprise has held annually for over a decade, brings together the Cambridge community of business partners, investors and government to celebrate the successes of the University’s entrepreneurs.
Research England, part of UK Research and Innovation, funds “excellent research and high-performance knowledge exchange” to create economic and social impact, meet national priorities and address global challenges. The government organisation has provided grant funding for a number of Cambridge projects, and Sweeney said it was “tremendously and passionately rewarding” to see the “fruits” of this investment showcased at the event.
This year Ideas to Reality focused on six key themes in Cambridge Enterprise’s work, including trustworthy technologies, socially beneficial innovation, drug discovery, international partnerships and global impact. A number of University spin-out companies, social ventures and collaborations were featured, including Sorex Sensors, Netwookie, Waterscope, Qkine, PolyProx Therapeutics and Apollo Therapeutics.
Putting groundbreaking innovations to use in products and services for the benefit of society is a subject close to Sweeney’s heart. “There is no way that we can separate research of the highest quality from the opportunities that there are to take that research forward, to apply it to innovative routes,” he argued. He closed with a call to arms, urging the audience to look beyond Cambridge to the larger national and international stage. “We need more political engagement,” he said. “Tell the stories that are so impressive.”