Collaboration: driving Europe’s growth

The IBP’s Spring Executive Dinner and Discussion was held on 19 March 2013.

Robert-Jan Smits, Director General, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission, opened the evening with his view of the European Union’s need for innovation in a time of austerity – a need confirmed by the EU’s protection of the budget for science. Robert-Jan focussed particularly on the benefits of public-private collaboration and presented this as a vision for what Horizon 2020 could achieve.

Developing the theme of collaboration, Jonathan Legh Smith, Head of Partnerships & Strategic Research at BT, which is the largest participant in FP7 programmes from the UK ICT sector, and Professor Neil Alford, Deputy Principal for the Faculty of Engineering, shared their insights on industry-academic collaborations within Framework Programme 7. Both offered lessons learned from wide-ranging experience.

Jonathan stressed the importance of aligning research objectives not with business objectives, but with strategic aims, and warned against underestimating the commitment required from industry. Neil offered five key learning points for a successful collaboration: a team who will deliver; preparation; a discerning, decisive project coordinator who will show leadership; delivery; and active participation from all parties.

In the discussion which followed, members shared their own experiences of success and failure in working in public-private partnerships and with EU funding, particularly with regards the management challenge of coordinating large-scale projects of this nature.

Over dinner, Sarah Shepley, Director, IBP, gave an introduction to the 2033: Tech Foresight themes and shared with members an outline of the process for curating the conference’s content.

A copy of the programme can be found below.

IBP programme – Collaboration: Driving Europe’s growth (pdf)