Universities must share IP, says engineering chief

The outgoing president of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is calling for more universities to give SMEs open access to their IP.

"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 SMEs that are best positioned to add value and commercialise it," commented Professor Andy Hopper. He continued: "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 Hopper believes this will be a big boost for the engine room of the UK economy, as well as small and medium sized enterprises. He is also calling for more engineering advisers to be embedded in government. "In the UK, engineering is still undervalued despite our rich industrial heritage and track record in pioneering new technologies," Prof Hopper noted. "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."