Fund cooperation projects and promote department of trade and industry between universities and enterprises
In order to better support enterprise innovation, Britain also actively promoted the cooperation among universities, research institutes, and enterprises, and launched and sponsored a number of cooperation projects. These include the following:
- 1 The LINK Program (LINK). The project started in 1986, the objective of which was to promote the pre-commercial development of government- funded research projects by research institutes and industry. For SMEs participating in this program, the government can support up to 60% of its required funds; for pre-research projects, the government can support up to 75% of the funds; for core research projects, the government can support up to 50% of funds; for developing projects, the government can support up to 25% of the funding. From 1986 to 2002, the Department of Trade and Industry provided a total of 37 million pounds for this program every year, which now amounts to about 40 million pounds per year.
- 2 Faraday’s Partner Project. The project came into operation in 1997. Diffusion of innovation and technology was achieved mainly through communication and interaction between partners. By 2003, there had been 24 Faraday partnerships in the United Kingdom, covering 51 university departments, 27 research institutes, 25 intermediary organizations, and 2,000 enterprises of all sizes. The British government has provided 52 million pounds funding for its core research and infrastructure at 24 research centers. Department of Trade and Industry and other departments invested up to 400,000 pounds per year in infrastructure for each partner, with at least three years’ support. In the third year, an assessment would be conducted to decide whether to continue supporting it.
- 3 Scientific Enterprise Center Project. Currently, the United Kingdom has set up 13 scientific enterprise centers through collaboration of university with enterprise and provided incubation conditions mainly for new technology enterprises. These science centers offered undergraduate and graduate students access to entrepreneurial skills in science and engineering, reinforced knowledge transfer, and promoted the emergence of high-tech companies.
In 1995, 306 new patents were added to the universities in the United Kingdom, and this number increased up to 967 in 2001; license fees for intellectual property increased from 11 million pounds in 1995 to 33 million pounds in 2001; and the number of incubators increased from 28 in 1995 to 213 in 2001.
In addition, the British government strongly supported the development of future industries and introduced relevant measures to encourage investment in research and development projects. Each year, it separately increased its investment in science and engineering research projects by 400 million pounds and increased its investment in equipment and capital infrastructure projects by 100 million pounds. The actual annual growth rate of project funds on research and development by government is about 5%.
Support college start-ups and promote technology Transfer
The United Kingdom also supported technological innovation activities at universities through the establishment of University Innovation Fund. This fund is managed by the College Fund Committee, which is used mainly for the transfer of scientific research results in colleges and universities.
At present, there are universally established technology transfer offices and patent offices in British universities, and some well-known technology transfer agencies have emerged. The Cambridge Enterprise affiliated with the University of Cambridge is one of them. The company’s primary mission is to help start-ups in achieving success with companies and incubators that have just been separated from the University of Cambridge by licensing such technologies. In 2002, the Cambridge Enterprise issued a total of 32 new licenses and prepared 66 patent documents, with an annual income of three million US dollars. The ISIS Innovation Company of Oxford University, a technology transfer company affiliated with the University of Oxford, is responsible for providing researchers with business consulting, patent application funding, and legal advice to facilitate the transfer of scientific and technological achievements. In addition, ISIS masters the entire university’s intellectual property and conducts the evaluation, protection, and marketing of technological achievements.
Foreign enterprises doing business in the UK can also enjoy the policy support of the British government for innovation work. They can apply for R&D funding on numerous projects such as R&D tax relief and subsidy regulations, Eureka Program, Link Program, Forecasting Plan, the EU’s Sixth Research and Technology Development Framework, research and development funding, surveys, and innovation funding.
In recent years, the Department of Trade and Industry has also launched five new service varieties to support the technological innovation of enterprises. The first is a collaborative research and development project mainly through the implementation of the Link Program and funding channels. The second is a knowledge transfer network project mainly through the existing Faraday Partnership Program and funding channels to deepen and widen the transfer of high-level technology to British enterprises through more extensive and flexible network activities. The third is research and development grants, which are based on the Merit Prize that has been implemented for many years and are mainly used to meet the special requirements of enterprises. In 2002, 974 enterprises received a total of 52.4 million pounds. The Fourth is innovative ideas grant providing funding mainly in Scotland for innovative small enterprises. Fifth, knowledge transfer partners funded projects mainly to encourage college graduates in a variety of companies to transfer technology.