All-Wales project to increase technology transfer between Welsh universities and business

 A new initiative to transfer more of Wales’ cutting-edge university research into business to help boost Wales’ economy and build an ‘innovation culture’ has received a funding boost from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW).

The HEFCW funded project will see Wales’ leading St David’s Day Group of research intensive universities - Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan and Swansea - join forces to create a new network of staff to better identify, protect and commercialise Wales’ leading research.

The project will strengthen the group’s capabilities in the commercialisation of intellectual property and create an effective network to increase technology transfer between universities and Welsh businesses in support of the Welsh Government’s aims. 

It will also forge close links with key industry sectors in Wales in order to create an integrated structure for the commercialisation of new technologies within Wales and internationally.

“Welsh universities already have a tradition for turning new technology and ideas from an academic setting into new and cutting-edge businesses – but we must do more,” according to Professor Chris McGuigan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Enterprise at Cardiff University, who are leading the project.

“The new St David’s Day Group project – the first of its kind for the Group - will help bring Wales’ leading research intensive universities together to create a team capable of firstly identifying and then increasing technology transfer.

”Over the lifetime of the project, it will also help members of the St David’s Day Group forge closer links with key industry sectors in Wales – which is to be warmly welcomed,” he added. 

Dr David Blaney, Chief Executive of HEFCW, said: “I am pleased that the universities of the St David’s Day Group have come together to explore new models for commercialising intellectual property in Wales.

“The IP system is invaluable in translating the research work done in universities into something tangible that can also reap economic benefits or have positive implications for society more widely.

“The expertise required to do this is not inconsiderable. Creating a network of Technology Transfer Officers will not only benefit the universities involved and the companies or organisations they work with; it will also hit one of the key priorities set out in the Welsh Government’s Science For Wales strategy, and ensure that the wider economy derives maximum benefit from IP produced in Wales’s universities.”

Chris Drew, Deputy Head at the Aberystwyth and Bangor University Strategic Alliance said:

"This programme builds on existing collaborative work between Bangor and Aberystwyth Universities under the Strategic Alliance between the two institutions.   I am delighted that we can join this broader consortium to further enhance capability and capacity.  Each institution has its own unique opportunities but the challenges of exploiting them are often common across projects and the HE sector.  I believe this project will boost our ability to face those challenges and identify more opportunities for exploiting the excellent research and expertise in our institutions."

This project will support and enhance the drive to commercialize research at Bangor University. A new company spinning out from the University – Diagnostig – aims to exploit Bangor University’s research over the last three years into diagnostics for mycobacterial diseases at the School of Chemistry. The potential impact on the diagnosis of disease and the follow-up treatment of patients in third world countries is reflected in the ongoing relationship with the World Health Organization, and Diagnostig’s acceptance onto the Welsh Government’s High Potential Starts programme.

Prof. David Shepherd, Deputy Vice Chancellor at Bangor University said: ‘Diagnostig is an excellent example of the cutting-edge research at Bangor that has a direct relevance to industry, and in this case, world health. The St David’s Day project will ensure that the Universities can meet the demands of industry, driving the translation of academic research to industry’.

Professor McGuigan added: “As the first major initiative for the St David’s Day Group it will also help forge links between the universities across all parts of Wales, help consolidate the strengths of each and provide a platform for future knowledge transfer activities across Wales.”

The St David’s Day Declaration was signed in 2009 by Cardiff, Aberystwyth, Bangor, Glamorgan and Swansea universities. The declaration marked a new chapter in supporting the knowledge economy in Wales.

Working together as five universities they represent over 70% of all students in Wales and more than 95% of the nation’s research activity.

Building on their combined strengths, the declaration aims to bring together the five Universities and use the talents of staff and students to help drive forward the knowledge economy in Wales.

Publication date: 1 February 2013