A great idea often starts with a lightbulb moment, a flash of inspiration that feels like it could be something big – but for many ideas that’s as far as it gets. For successful innovators, getting to the point where things really take off is a long and often winding road of hope, promise, disappointment and renewal.
Entrepreneurs who grow a good idea into a business are critical to our economic success, but entrepreneurs are not only born and raised in the business community. There are about 1,000 businesses in the UK that are run by university academics who have taken the plunge and are commercialising the research that they have invested years of their lives in.
At the moment some university technology transfer offices are using funding models and measures of success that are just too short-term. Innovate UK will work with the government and Research England to make sure that the new framework looks to the long term, with a variety of measures that genuinely link through to growth and create the right incentives.
In particular, the framework must acknowledge that research that can transform our industries comes in many different forms, not just patents and IP. For instance, a great deal of work is already being done to develop artificial intelligence systems and algorithms that will analyse big datasets, but since you cannot patent an algorithm in the UK, using that as your indicator would be a flawed measure.
The framework will also need to drive knowledge from our universities into established businesses of all sizes to develop new products and services because this is just as important as support for new companies that are starting out.
That is where schemes like knowledge transfer partnerships can help. Run by Innovate UK, the research councils and devolved administrations, these transfer a graduate or more senior researcher into a business for between 12 and 36 months to deliver an innovation project identified by the business. This is a three-way partnership between the business, the university and the academic in which all benefit.
Ray Brogden, COO of Qualifi applauds the introduction of this initiative and the concluding message within the article, “the framework can bring benefits not just to the international reputation of our businesses and universities, but also to the wider economy.” Qualifi Awarding Organisation has within our suite of qualifications the Level 5 Diploma in Business Enterprise (601/6050/0) an Ofqual regulated, Advanced Learner Loan approved qualification which provides access to a final year honours degree via our partner universities here in the UK or the US. I invite you to follow the link above and to visit our website to access additional information about this course and others, progression opportunities, funding and how to become an approved delivery centre. Furthermore, Qualifi through its partnership with Darin Tudor, a former entrepreneur in residence at Coventry University has enabled academic recognition of his work through embedding it into our regulated qualification, please see below regarding the “Toolkit”:
An introduction to the ‘Entrepreneur Toolkit’.
The toolkit was developed during 2015 and is supporting 145 startups/early stage/high growth potential businesses at Coventry University, soon to help a similar amount at the University of Wolverhampton, two Warwickshire School 6th forms and is being reviewed by numerous China-based colleges, a high street bank, a top global accountancy firm and a number of LEP Growth Hubs.
Benefits the ‘Entrepreneur Toolkit’ provides;
- Adds tangible recruitment value– In prospective clients wanting to get one, as a quick, universal support tool and provides a universally attractive ‘sense of expectation’
- Can help with the initial support selection process– Some of the checklists within the toolkit could help facilitate this to give a good snapshot on business understanding, potential and maturity
- Support staff interface– With this common platform and framework, expectations can be pre-agreed in a consistent, structured way and less subjectively, in additional ‘tailored support’ can be efficiently and accurately targeted at individual level
- Time constraints on staff– The busy team won’t have to give wider, other than as specifically required, rudimentary advice or get hooked into unofficial mentoring, the toolkit would act as the clients own personal pocket ‘Entrepreneur in Residence’ available on call 24/7
- What is needed– Help and support are only words until they crystallise into actions, the toolkit evidences this requirement
- Scale up resilience– Increasing numbers and roll out is easier
- The high flyers to make ‘real life’ success story’s (always the most effective marketing mechanism)– Who are they? Why? And what? is it they need to help the escalation process, the toolkit can create the common language to have these discussions and road map the necessary prescriptive steps required
In essence between all this body of work, it covers all stages of the SME journey.