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Public Sector Research: Exploitation

Volume 597: debated on Wednesday 10 February 1999

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asked Her Majesty's Government:How they are taking forward the commitment in the Competitiveness White Paper to making more of the commercial potential of the output of public sector research establishments. [HL1002]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry
(Lord Sainsbury of Turville)

I am very pleased to announce that John Baker, who is Chairman of Medeva plc, has agreed to investigate the commercialisation of public sector research establishment (PSRE) outputs, with a view to making recommendations for increasing the rate of their exploitation. The study takes forward a commitment made in the Competitiveness White Paper, published last December. Mr. Baker will be working closely with HM Treasury, OST and DTI, which are collaborating on the initiative.

It is time we took a close look at how we maximise the commercial potential of the high quality research that is carried out by the PSREs, where it is possible to do so. We need to identify the barriers to commercialising research and make sure that the PSREs share the best ways of overcoming them. The results should be of great benefit to the PSREs and the departments that sponsor them.

The intention is that the study will look in particular at the coverage of commercialisation in research contracts between PSREs and their sponsors, the organisation of the knowledge transfer process and incentives for PSRE staff.

John Baker will begin this work very soon; seeking the views of key people in the PSREs and sponsor departments. He is expected to report later this year.

The terms of reference of this study are as follows:

To investigate the commercialisation of research in the Government's public sector research establishments (PSREs) and make recommendations for increasing the rate at which PSRE research outputs are successfully commercialised, consistent with other government objectives for PSREs, with reference in particular to:

  • the role of sponsor departments/Research Councils in promoting the exploitation of research in their PSREs;
  • progress in improving the culture of entrepreneurship within PSREs—particularly through the adoption of new guidance on exploiting government assets;
  • the organisational capacity and expertise for managing and exploiting government IP effectively;
  • specific institutional barriers, and possible new incentives;
  • spreading best practice;
  • the scope for closer co-operation with the private sector.