IET: Engineering chief: more universities must share research with SMEs

The outgoing President of Europe’s largest engineering body is calling for more universities to give small and medium sized businesses open access to the intellectual property (IP) that they create.

Professor Andy Hopper CBE is making the plea as he prepares to step down after his one-year term as President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Andy said: “Tax payers are already funding the creation of innovative intellectual property in our universities, so it seems reasonable that more of this is made available to UK SMEs that are best positioned to add value and commercialise it.

“Universities should be encouraged and incentivised more to kick start the development of new technologies and products by openly assigning the required IP to dynamic British businesses at minimal extra cost. In return, maybe the university could get a one or two per cent shareholding – more of a goodwill gesture than a conventional transaction.  This is all perfectly possible and is happening in a number of UK universities already.”

Professor Andy Hopper believes this will be a big boost for the engine room of the UK economy, small and medium sized enterprises.

He is also calling on the Government to ensure more engineers involved in decision making.  With a raft of massive engineering projects in the pipeline, such as Smart Grids, High Speed 2, faster broadband networks and new or expanded airports, Professor Hopper wants to see more engineering advisers embedded in government.

Professor Hopper, who heads up the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, said: “In the UK, engineering is still undervalued despite our rich industrial heritage and track record in pioneering new technologies. This is reflected in the make-up of the Government and must change to help turn around the UK economy.

“With the success of so much future policy based around engineering and technology, I believe that it is time for the Government to draw more on the knowledge and experience of the UK’s best engineering talent at the highest levels.”


About Andy Hopper:

Andy Hopper is President of the IET (from October 2012 – end September 2013).  He is Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge and Head of the Computer Laboratory. His research interests include networking, pervasive and sentient computing, and using computers for assuring the sustainability of the planet.

Andy Hopper has pursued academic and industrial careers in parallel. In the academic career he has worked in the Computer Laboratory and the Department of Engineering at Cambridge.  In the industrial career he has co-founded a dozen companies, two of which floated on stock markets. He is currently chairman of RealVNC and Ubisense plc. He has been an IET Ordinary Trustee (2003-2006) and a member of the IT Sector Panel (2002-2007).

Professor Hopper received the BSc degree from the University of Wales Swansea (1974) and the PhD degree from the University of Cambridge (1978). He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (1996) and of the Royal Society (2006). He was made a CBE for services to the computer industry (2007).

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Robert Beahan
External Communications Manager