new strategy is nothing if not ambitious in
providing us with a mission to ‘make
a major impact on global society’.
One way we will achieve this is by producing
confident, independent and analytically-minded
graduates – some becoming leaders in
their fields. We will also encourage our researchers
to explore new avenues, respond to global
agendas and develop themes of international
Enterprise and knowledge transfer –
activities which generate, apply and exploit
knowledge and other capabilities outside our
campus in the wider world – are also
powerful tools to help us achieve this mission.
In other words, to make an impact on society
– whether it’s local, national
or global – you have to transfer your
expertise and knowledge outside the academic
environment. In brutal terms, if all we ever
do is educate our students and create research,
and the research doesn’t go anywhere,
and the students don’t make a difference
– then we have failed.
It must be a two-way process; not just flowing
out from the University, but also responding
to the wishes and needs of external agencies
and societies. No longer must enterprise and
knowledge transfer be the ‘poor cousins’
of research and teaching/learning. They are
fundamental activities for a world-class university,
and we have identified them quite properly
as one of our strategy’s four ‘key
I think we are very good at these activities.
You can find examples all over the campus;
the Post Office came to Leeds to help it plan
services across the country, so academics
from computing, maths, business and geography
collaborated to produce models of where demand
for their business was greatest (see also
Our centre for health informatics –
a growing area of importance covering technology-driven
areas like information integration and its
application to improve patient care –
is working with major players in the NHS,
industry and public sector, including a partnership
with Accenture delivering everything from
consultancy to career opportunities.
Colour chemistry has just completed a project
for ICI on why paint colours on card samples
never look the same on a painted wall. The
University has set up seven centres for industrial
collaboration in the region to help companies
develop innovative and competitive products
from artificial limbs to ice cream.
The innovative care, values and the future
of welfare (CAVA) programme is setting new
agendas for government policy through its
work on how social policies serve people trying
to juggle family and work, caring and earning.
We are helping education providers with special
needs teaching and childcare support.
Our enterprising students and graduates are
turning business ideas into commercial ventures
using campus start-up facilities, while staff
spin-outs have made a profit over the last
five years of around £4m. This month
sees the launch of drug information spin-out
LUTO, which will ensure patients can understand
the information given with everything from
cold cures to heart drugs (see the press
release for more information).
The list goes on, right across the University.
Knowledge transfer and/or enterprise –
the protection and exploitation of our intellectual
property – is inherent in almost every
activity we do, and there is enormous scope
for demonstrating how we impact on society.
We need to identify and communicate our achievements.
We have to get people to integrate enterprise
and knowledge transfer into their thoughts
– and even recognise it when they are
doing it! We need to co-ordinate and provide
a framework using the faculty structure and
research expertise to enable these activities
to become part of the daily round; this will
be a priority for our new Pro-Vice-Chancellor
Richard Williams. The reward and promotions
procedures will reflect the importance of
Others have confidence in us. The technology
transfer brand leaders IP2IPO bought our spin-out
and licensing agents Techtran, and are now
working with the top eight universities in
the UK for enterprise activity and potential.
They believe our University could make up
to £10m pounds a year from such activity
– that’s £10m we could invest
in academic activities, three times our strategic
Of course it isn’t just about income
generation and competitiveness, important
though they are. Enterprise and knowledge
transfer activities raise our profile at home
and internationally. They demonstrate our
value to our funders, and to society, and
thereby secure their continuing support. They
underpin our mission to make a major impact
among a multiplicity of communities.
They are brilliant in helping us break down
the boundaries between disciplines and forging
new collaborations and partnerships, helping
us to unleash creativity and new ideas and
contributing to a dynamic and sustainable
environment for staff and students. And to
return to the theme of my very first leader
column, that’s what a world-class university
Consultation on the first draft of our
strategy is now closed – the response
has been terrific (see Reporter
page 3) and will enable us to make enormous
improvements. We’ll be back in the autumn
with the next version – and some clear
ideas about how we will achieve it!
Professor Michael J