Press Office


Minister launches new forum set to forge innovation between universities and industry

A new forum to foster innovation stemming from collaborations between academia and industry launches today.

The new Industry innovation Forum (IIF) led by the N8 Research Partnership launches today at an event which will bring together senior figures from industry with leading scientists from the northern research intensive universities, with the aim of forging new collaborations and driving innovation, competitive advantage and growth.
Having recently been highlighted as an exemplar model for creating innovation and research clusters by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; the N8 Research Partnership is launching its Industry Innovation Forum, in partnership with the Technology Strategy Board and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The initiative brings together global companies involved in R&D, government bodies and world leading experts from the North of England’s 8 most research-intensive universities, which is known as the N8. The Industry Innovation Forum aims to maximise linkages and market pull between private sector research and development, industrial and consumer needs and the world class research base in the UK.
The Industry Innovation Forum officially launches today (Tuesday 31 January 2012) at a high profile dinner held at University of Leeds where key representatives from Government, industry and academia will be in attendance along with the key partners and the Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts, who will officially mark the launch of this initiative.
The first Industry Innovation Forum meeting will take place tomorrow (1 February 2012) and will be attended by over 100 high profile university and industry partners. It will focus on Advanced Materials Technologies which was identified as an area across a range of sectors, including aerospace and consumer goods where industry were looking for new and exciting possibilities. The discussions will be business-led, ensuring industry pull of the N8 world class science base, and new industry to industry and industry to academic partnerships will be created at this event.
The Technology Strategy Board’s role within the Industry Innovation Forum will be to facilitate the forum meetings and encourage industry and academia to ‘engage and explore’ ideas and insights. Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, stated:
 “The Technology Strategy Board’s key role is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. We are delighted to pilot and support the N8 Industry Innovation Forum, which aims to help businesses of all sizes to work together and form collaborations, and to develop relationships with research-intensive universities in the North of England, translating new research and innovative technology into commercially-viable products and services. We already have excellent examples of working to support business in the North of England and look forward to building on its strong industrial capacity."
Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:
"The Industry Innovation Forum is an excellent example of the benefits of collaboration across the higher education sector. This initiative will give companies of all sizes access to the resources and expertise of eight research-intensive universities, driving innovation and providing them with informed solutions to the challenges they face."
HEFCE’s role is to support the N8 universities to develop and implement the ideas and insights that come from the Industry Innovation Forum events, working with industry, and put them into practice.

Sir Alan Langlands, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: “I congratulate the N8 universities on coming together on this innovative proposal. It is built on the considerable success of the universities in knowledge exchange to date, and using our Higher Education Innovation funding most effectively in working together. We are pleased to be able to invest further in the venture by making available funds which will provide a catalyst to developments underpinning economic growth and recovery of this country.”

Professor Keith Burnett, current Chair of the N8 Research Partnership added: “The N8 Industry Innovation Forum is focussed on providing large and small companies with easy and quick access to the critical mass of the N8 universities knowledge base.
We have listened to our industry partners and have designed the Forum so that businesses can talk to us about their key needs and challenges in a particular area. We can match these with science solutions and possibilities from the research base, across a range of disciplines from 8 leading universities.
The first meeting in Advanced Materials Technologies presents huge opportunities for ideas and applications across a range of sectors in the UK including chemicals, consumer goods, pharmaceuticals and aerospace, and we are committed to using the ‘power of 8’ universities working together to stimulate innovation and jobs in the UK.”
The N8 Research Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, which utilises the combined expertise and capabilities of these research intensive universities.
Further details may be found on the Industry Innovation Forum website.

published on: 31 January 2012