Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Industry-University Innovation Benchmarking: US vs. UK

For those interested in enhancing university-industry relationships (a topic of importance in our forthcoming book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue by Jeff Lindsay, Cheryl Perkins, and Mukund Karanjikar), it's helpful to know that the Cambridge-MIT Institute has been exploring learning from the UK and the US in this area. They have conducted some valuable benchmarking to understand the differences and draw meaningful conclusions. Here is an excerpt for their website:
Benchmarking Success

The Cambridge-MIT Institute funds research that sheds light on key issues in UK innovation. Our International Innovation Benchmarking Study, conducted by leading researchers at Cambridge and MIT, quizzed 3,600 British and American firms for insights into their business practices, in order better to understand the role of universities in the innovation process. The report provided for the first time a like-for-like comparison of the innovative behaviour of UK and US firms - giving valuable insights to industry bodies and policy-makers. The report yielded a number of important findings, including the discovery that while more UK than US businesses (two-thirds UK compared to one-third US) use universities as a source of knowledge for innovation, US businesses tend to value their interactions with universities more highly.

The report also found that companies in the United States are more concerned about taxation, legislation and regulation than their British counterparts, and that they are more worried about a lack of skilled labour and getting access to finance. "I was surprised by the data from this survey on 'innovation inputs' that suggested that firms in the US find life just as challenging, and in many cases, harder than those in the UK,” said Ian McCafferty, Chief Economist at the CBI. “Clearly the popular impression of the US - that it offers a much better climate for innovation than the UK - does not fully stack up."

I also understand that a related study from this group points to the importance of a professor's network in determining whether the work is commercialized. Broad contacts across the company a professor interacts with helps determine the success of the project. (I'm looking for that reference. Do you have it?)

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