Universities, business and government must work together to scale up innovation

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Collaboration is key to building a thriving start-up ecosystem and rebuilding itself after the pandemic, the president of Imperial Oil said during a panel debate.

Collaboration is the name of the game Professor Alice Gast President, Imperial College London

The online discussion was hosted by the Center for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI) and focused on the role of UK universities in start-ups, growth and innovation.

CSFI Director Dr Andrew Hilton moderated, with Professor Gast joined on the panel by Sam Gyimah, Non-Executive Director of Goldman Sachs (and former Minister of Universities, Science, Research and Innovation ) and Veronika Kapustina, founder of Houghton St Ventures and co-founder of VentureESG.

Funding, space and mentoring

Professor Gast opened by reiterating the importance of education and research in universities to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs and advance ideas and discoveries.

To realize the potential of their ideas, these entrepreneurs need three key things, she said: “funding, space and mentorship”. Imperial has been working to provide them for several years, through programs such as the Venture Catalyst Challenge and WeInnovate, as well as the creation of new incubators and accelerators, such as Scale Space, a collaboration with Blenheim Chalcot.

Yet to build a thriving start-up ecosystem that brings tangible benefits to society at large, we need to work more together – with other universities, businesses and governments.

“Collaboration is the name of the game,” said Professor Gast. “It really is a team sport and we now have opportunities as we recover from the pandemic to really accelerate networking and deliver best practices going forward. While it is true that we compete vigorously in everything we do, we also find the best partners to work with, I think that is a sign of a great institution.

She said Apollo Therapeutics, a new biopharmaceutical company developing transformative treatments, has been formed by Imperial Oil, UCL and the University of Cambridge alongside AstraZeneca, GSK, Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

An international perspective

Professor Gast also highlighted TenU, a transatlantic partnership funded by Research England, which brings together ten leading academic technology transfer offices to leverage their combined knowledge on how best to use cutting-edge research to tackle challenges. global.

Still on the theme of internationalism, Professor Gast underlined the importance of a “rational immigration policy” to attract and retain entrepreneurial talent.

“The international community is over-represented among start-ups and in registered patents. They are already risk takers who have come to study abroad and come to work here and that serves us very well. We need to make international inventors and entrepreneurs feel welcome and the post-study work visa was an important part of that. “

A radical change in impact

Sam Gyimah, who also sits on the board of directors of Oxford University Innovation, echoed many of Professor Gast’s points about collaboration.

“I would like to see university ecosystems work much better together. I think you need this kind of collaboration because not every tech transfer office is really big enough on their own to engineer the radical change required and seize the scale of the opportunity that presents itself in our universities. .

Gyimah added: “There is also a lot of language surrounding being a ‘science superpower’ – but as Alice mentioned, science is about collaboration and it is also international.”

/ Public distribution. This material is from the original organization and may be ad hoc in nature, edited for clarity, style and length. See it in full here.


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