A consortium including the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge has begun work on a major project to improve innovation processes and their effectiveness in society.
Titled ‘Science2Society’, the EC-funded project will assess the mechanisms through which universities, research organisations, society and industry collaborate to create value. Value can be created through sparking new ideas, differentiating new products and services, capturing the benefits of publicly funded research and ultimately producing winning solutions for today’s societal challenges.
The Science2Society project is expected to take three years to reach completion, during which it will directly engage with some 50 universities and research organisations, 30 industries and 100 small businesses. The Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) is one of 18 participating organisations which are based in seven European countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK.
The overall mission of Science2Society is to understand and improve the efficiency of the European innovation system and the ways it creates new businesses, turns technology into products and services, attracts financing and generally creates value from academic research. The study is focusing on key schemes currently used to encourage use of innovation. These include co-creation of products in a virtual ‘ideas laboratory’, co-location of industry laboratories in universities as well as coaching and training provided by universities to SMEs.
Outrun innovation systems outside Europe
More specific objectives include compiling an easily accessible knowledge database of university/ industry/society interface schemes suitable for today’s more open environment, the creation of a clear and proven set of guidelines and tools, and developing a sustainable learning programme for continued replication of the best schemes. This last objective will have a critical mass of some 3,000 European stakeholders and therefore will have a substantial impact throughout Europe.
IfM will participate in most of the project tasks, and in particular the preparation of an online knowledge database, analytical modeling of university/industry interfaces using business process re-engineering, compiling the results into generalised models as well as overall project management support.
Dr Nikoletta Athanassopoulou, a Senior Industrial Fellow, leads the project for the IfM and commented: “This unique project has the potential to make a huge impact to how well societies harness the power of research-led innovation. The international scale and prestige of the consortium is coupled with a very well defined scope of activity to ensure that clear, actionable insights will emerge from the work.”
Shaping the European Research Arena
The proposed project will disseminate its results throughout Europe, aiming to successfully replicate the best university/industry/society collaboration programmes to a large number of stakeholders. European researchers are using collaboration to positively shape the European research agenda.