Since joining OGIC in 2016, Project Manager Mark Robertson has helped a range of ambitious businesses to work with academic partners. So he’s well placed to advise on what’s required for a successful innovation project.
What type of projects does OGIC support?
Many of our projects involve early-stage proof of concept and feasibility research.
This stage of research is a major driver of innovation in a knowledge economy, and public funding is vital to de-risk it. Few firms have the means to invest significantly in it, and commercialisation may be very many months or years away.
OGIC connects businesses with researchers in Scottish universities. Do you have any tips for good academic–business collaboration?
Both sides need to understand the other’s perspective and drivers, because there may be inherent differences.
Firms may be focused on fast commercial results and clear contributions to current/new business lines, and universities may be focused on research and longer-term returns.
IP can be another hurdle; agreeing who takes the results of a collaboration forward to future commercialisation. Fortunately, OGIC has a clear position on IP, and it typically rests with the company.
So, for successful academic-business partnerships, the scope of the collaboration must be clearly understood by both parties. And their different perspectives must be taken into account when the scope is defined so that both parties derive value from the collaboration.
And when they work together well, what are the benefits?
Companies benefit hugely from the breadth and depth of expertise that Scottish universities have to offer. The academics are driven by ‘interesting problems’, not necessarily the possible commercial benefits, and bring a different perspective as well as extensive knowledge.
These collaborations bring benefits to both sides, often beyond what the developer company had originally anticipated.
To find out more about successful academic-business collaboration and innovation, visit us at Stand 80 at Subsea Expo. We’re sharing it with University of Strathclyde and the ORCA Hub (Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets), so there’ll be plenty to talk about.