Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Innovative business models key to research commercialisation success

11.12.2007
Universities should consider more innovative business models to support research commercialisation if they want to maximise their financial returns, says Philip Sharpe of QinetiQ.

Speaking at the World Universities Network (WUN) workshop in Leeds today [11 December], Ventures Director Sharpe says that in exploitation activities, universities share enough similarities to technology rich corporates that they might learn lessons from QinetiQ’s own corporate venturing experiences.

“Initially we followed the political agenda of research commercialisation for the knowledge economy borne in the mid ‘90s, but since this agenda has been adopted as mainstream, our focus at QinetiQ has shifted to playing directly to financial opportunities and the methods of maximising our offer to market.

“Our original corporate venturing was quite traditional – creating, incubating and grooming our pipeline of ventures internally, funded by our consultancy activities, until they’d reached a maturity where they had equity value, and then looking to external partners and finance. But this is quite a laborious and often fraught process, with internal funding levels at the mercy of the organisation’s profit margins and dealing with accountants who considered investments as losses.”

QinetiQ realised that it needed to adopt a more innovative offer and a more sophisticated model, and acted quickly. In 2007, the organisation shifted its focus and packaged seven ventures together and put them into an external Fund under a limited partnership agreement. The model was supported by £20 million investment from Coller Capital Private Equity and a further £20 million from QinetiQ, with a dedicated fund manager to drive all the individual companies forward.

“This approach makes for a more attractive offer to VCs and the market and improves chances of earlier exit,” says Sharpe. Recent financial reports now value QinetiQ’s venturing activity as commanding 20 per cent of the organisation’s share value. I believe it’s our way forward.”

Sharpe says that packaging up related technologies is just one model that universities might consider. “Of course, every university is different; there’s no quick fix, and no ‘one size fits all’ solution to successful exploitation but there are lessons to be learned both from QinetiQ’s successes - and failures.

“For example, universities must have a clear objective - a mixed model won’t work. Buy out academic entrepreneurs’ time from teaching to let them focus. Insulate ventures from mainstream activities, use incubators and get the entrepreneurs out of the laboratory and into a more business-like environment. It makes a big difference to how people behave,” says Sharpe.

Making the venture stand on its own two feet with a distinct brand as soon as possible is also important, he says. “And lose the ‘university spin out’ tag, as it makes them look vulnerable to the market.”

Another activity that universities might encourage is the increased use of ‘Open Innovation’, says Sharpe. “Expand the IP offer by finding others working in similar areas and partner with them to create a more attractive offer and outcome. This may be counter-cultural to the academic environment, but it’s a pragmatic and growing approach that can work really well.”

“Whilst I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t here at QinetiQ,” he says, “I think the most important piece of advice is to recognise and build in a process that attracts and nurtures innovators rather than inventors. Inventors turn money into ideas, but true innovators turn ideas into money. The bottom line is that all our most successful ventures were headed by innovators, with drive, vision, flair and passion.”

Jo Kelly | alfa
Further information:
http://www.leeds.ac.uk

More articles from Business and Finance:

nachricht Frugal Innovations: when less is more
19.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation IAO

nachricht Europe's microtechnology industry is attuned to growth
10.03.2017 | IVAM Fachverband für Mikrotechnik

All articles from Business and Finance >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>