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UK commercial expertise to be embedded in academic departments

16 December 2008

The UK’s biggest funder of research across life sciences has today announced plans to bring industrial expertise directly into research departments. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) will open applications for new Industrial Impact Fellowships in January 2009. Initial funding of £2 million will be used to bring professionals from industry to work on BBSRC-funded projects, programmes, and in BBSRC centres, in order to support the translation of academic research into social and economic benefits for the UK.

Minister of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Drayson, said: "BBSRC's new fellowship scheme will enable a vital exchange of knowledge and expertise between academic and industrial sectors. Fellows of this scheme will get to share their experience, skills and contacts directly with researchers - which is essential to bring innovations from research to market, rapidly. Researchers, business and the UK economy stand to benefit as a result of this scheme"

The Industrial Impact Fellows will work within research departments and institutes sharing their experience, skills and contacts directly with research colleagues. They will work alongside academic colleagues funded on major BBSRC research projects, and bring their knowledge, experience and networks to bear on the process of bringing innovations from research to market.

Professor John Coggins, Vice Principal for the Faculties of Biomedical and Life Sciences, Clinical Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, University of Glasgow and BBSRC council member said: "The potential value of the new BBSRC scheme is to enhance university knowledge transfer activity by having a person sitting within a research group and really immersing themselves in the work that is going on. We expect that an Industrial Impact Fellow will be in the ideal position to spot opportunities for translation of research into social and economic impact at a very early stage and provide the expertise needed to deliver effective translation. Researchers in universities and institutes are increasingly concerned to identify and realise the social and economic potential of their discoveries as soon as possible. However, the kinds of entrepreneurial skills and business knowledge required to do this are often not available to them."

This new scheme builds on the existing BBSRC Industry Interchange Programme, which supports the flow of researchers, in either direction, between the science base and industry. Where the Industry Interchange Programme supports short-term exchanges of researchers and reciprocal access to facilities, the Industrial Impact Fellowships are specifically aimed at industry research leaders who have management and business experience, for example, research programme managers; research and development directors; or research group leaders who engage with other parts of the knowledge production pipeline. There is a strong element of flexibility in the scheme such that individuals may choose to take a fellowship as a secondment or to work 50/50 with their industrial employer, for example. Also, the host departments are encouraged to consider the suitability of offering long term opportunities following the fellowship. This flexibility builds in the chance for Fellows to take new skills and collaborations back into the commercial sector.

Dr Celia Caulcott, Director of Innovation and Skills, BBSRC said: "As well as complementing the Industry Interchange Programme, this new opportunity will broaden BBSRC’s portfolio of fellowships. In addition to the financial support offered, BBSRC Fellows are supported in other ways. For example, there are opportunities for Fellows to network with one another, attending the BBSRC Fellows’ conferences and working with BBSRC centres and Institutes. We believe that the inclusion of people with a variety of skills and experience in commercialisation could lead to some really valuable collaborative work that extends far beyond the duration of all of our fellowships."

ENDS

Notes to editors

BBSRC Industrial Impact Fellowships

The Industrial Impact Fellowships scheme will launch in January 2009, with an application deadline of 26 February 2009. The scheme will enable highly skilled research and technology leaders to transfer their skills and experience from the industrial sector to an academic setting: a BBSRC-funded centre, institute or academic department. There will be between 5 and 10 fellowships available to start by the end of 2009. This scheme has now been discontinued.

BBSRC Industry Interchange Programme (this scheme has since discontinued)

The BBSRC Industry Interchange Programme aims to support short-term exchanges that provide strategic advantage to the UK science base and industry arising from reciprocal access to facilities, expertise and/or knowledge, and an increased understanding of scientific issues of common concern.

About BBSRC

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is the UK funding agency for research in the life sciences. Sponsored by Government, BBSRC annually invests around £420M in a wide range of research that makes a significant contribution to the quality of life for UK citizens and supports a number of important industrial stakeholders including the agriculture, food, chemical, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors. www.bbsrc.ac.uk

Contact

Matt Goode, Head of External Relations

tel: 01793 413299
fax: 01793 413382