Leading US university tech transfer office heads to meet with government and top UK universities

Two of the most innovative US universities, along with their UK counterparts, will meet with the minister and innovation and industrial strategy leaders from UK government on Monday 25 February.

Lesley Millar-Nicholson, Director of MIT’s Technology Licensing Office, and Karin Immergluck, Executive Director of Stanford’s Office of Technology Licensing, were invited by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Cambridge Enterprise Chief Executive Tony Raven to confer with UK policymakers and university peers.

Participants in Monday’s meetings, held at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, include Chris Skidmore MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation; David Sweeney, Executive Chair of Research England; leaders from HMT and the Industrial Strategy Board as well as the heads of technology transfer at the universities of Cambridge and Manchester, Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK).

On 26 February Millar-Nicholson and Immergluck will join the “6U” group of UK universities—Cambridge, Edinburgh, Imperial, Manchester, Oxford and UCL—which meets regularly to exchange strategies and best practices for commercialising research. The goal is to share expertise and identify areas for international collaboration.

Both the US and UK are committed to increasing the economic return on government-funded R&D investment. In the US, this policy is embodied in the forthcoming Return on Investment Initiative. In the UK, the Industrial Strategy has identified universities as key drivers of innovation.

Technology transfer offices (TTOs) play a critical part in turning early-stage, research-based inventions into products, therapeutics and services to benefit everyone. TTOs help academics solve real world problems, create jobs and attract investment in local, regional and national economies.

MIT Technology Licensing Office’s Director, Lesley Millar-Nicholson, said: “The value in bringing together leaders in university technology transfer, to share best practices and discuss commercialisation strategies for translating early stage technologies into impact for society, cannot be overstated. Understanding the various challenges, and value drivers in different economic and innovation ecosystems, goes a long way to helping build effective and efficient translational models across the globe. It is my privilege to be invited to participate and contribute knowledge gained in my roles at MIT and also University of Illinois, Champaign/Urbana.”

Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said: “The UK operates at the leading edge of world standard in technology transfer. But we want to build a more R&D intensive economy, and effective commercialisation is a key driver towards the Government’s 2.4% R&D target. So, we need to do more. And we need to be open to innovations and best practices from across the globe. Our American cousins are skilled at commercialisation. I look forward to learning from experts from American and UK universities with long track records and scale in technology transfer, and to comparing our world leading ecosystems, such as the Cambridge Cluster, with those of Stanford in Silicon Valley and of MIT in Kendall Square.”

Cambridge Enterprise Chief Executive Tony Raven said: “The UK and US universities creating this new group are world leaders in the commercialisation of university research. My UK colleagues and I are looking forward to working with Karin and Lesley in sharing, comparing and advancing international best practice in university research commercialisation for the benefit of our economies and societies locally, nationally and globally.”

Photo: Dan Forest via Flickr
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