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University Research: Commercialisation

Volume 645: debated on Tuesday 17 July 2018

We want the UK to be the place where innovators, researchers and entrepreneurs turn ideas into reality. Our universities have a strong part to play within this, alongside business. That is why we are funding, through United Kingdom Research and Innovation, support for research collaborations between universities and business. We also have the industrial strategy challenge fund, as well as higher education innovation funding and our Connecting Capability funding. All of those will help universities work together with business.

The research partnership that exists between the University of Tokyo and Imperial College London is an excellent example of how the UK can benefit from sharing innovation and technology. What more will my hon. Friend do to ensure that we continue to strengthen academic networks and communities post Brexit?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Our research and innovation collaboration is important in what we do with the EU, but also globally in what we do around the world. That is why UKRI has established a new £110 million fund to explore and develop international partnerships with leading science and innovation regions. We will also bring forward an international science strategy in the autumn.

The Minister knows that many people working in our universities—brilliant scientists and innovators—are not on gold-plated pensions and do not have inherited wealth, like some of his hon. Friends. Will he look at universities in the United States, such as Cornell University, which have different ways of paying and incentivising research on those campuses?

Just focusing on the substance of the hon. Gentleman’s question—[Interruption.] The reason behind UK Research and Innovation, which brings together all the research agencies in the UK, is that, for the first time, we have a strategic brain to direct UK research so that we can allow innovation and ingenuity to flourish in our universities. That is the best way to create returns that benefit the economy but also the best minds in our country.

I am sure that the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman) did not bellow from a sedentary position like that when, as I referenced recently, he served with great distinction as a local councillor in the 1970s.

I have one of the foremost medical research centres on the border of my constituency at Queen’s University Belfast. Will the Minister outline what grants are available to enhance facilities in these world-class research centres?

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I am particularly interested in the research that Queen’s University Belfast is doing, particularly around areas of cyber-security. I look forward to visiting it in due course. Obviously, UKRI deals with all of the UK and that university will benefit from grants from UKRI too.