January 16, 2014

Letter from the editor (17 January 2014): M’obesity, Mo’ problems

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/health/obesity-awareness/

We’ve published a series of articles on the Knowledge Centre this week on obesity, diabetes and how we all play a part in a society that is becoming more and more obese. I have always struggled with my weight. As a child, I would often be described as ‘big boned’, chubby or stout but the truth was I was fat and I did little about it. By the time I reached my late-20s I weighed over 24 stone, squeezed my legs into 44 inch waist trousers and pulled XXL t-shirts over my head. Needless to say, when it comes to my weight, I’ve got more baggage than Heathrow and these pieces brought back some uncomfortable memories of who I used to be, what I used to eat and how sedentary a life I used to lead.

At that size you have a choice. You can embrace what you’ve become, ignore the looks of disdain from passers-by as you waddle down the street and continue down a path to even more morbid obesity (but, as the kids would say, m’obesity, mo’ problems) and, if you have any ambition left, at best, you can hope to become Britain’s fattest man/woman or a contender on the Biggest Loser. Alternatively, you can try and pick yourself up – mentally as well as physically – and have the ambition to just be healthy. Choosing the latter isn’t easy but you’ll, hopefully, be glad to learn it’s the option I’ve been pursuing and one I heartily recommend.

The truth is, and I’m not sure all large people feel this way but it certainly was true for me, being obese is lonely. We might act like the jolly fat guy but a love of cake is nothing compared to the love of another human being. Pizza cannot hug you and waking up next to an empty box of doughnuts does not elicit the same feelings that you get when you’re in a relationship with a person and not food. Like I said; a lot of baggage!

There was a moment when I caught sight of my reflection in the kitchen glass door and it was the moment I knew my life had to change. I’d just pulled a batch of freshly baked brownies out of the oven and I couldn’t even wait for them to cool down before having “a little taste”. As I looked up I saw this huge guy, whose reflection took up most of the doorway, shovelling still steaming cake into his mouth. Who was this guy? In my mind’s eye this wasn’t what I looked like but this is what other people saw when they met me; this was the real me; overweight, unhappy and lonely.

Gareth Jenkins obese man

It’s been five years since the above picture was taken (not long before that reflective moment) and in that time I made an effort to turn my life around. I’ve kept a varied exercise regime to help change my life – rambling, gym sessions and using the large selection of exercise DVDs I'd bought years before. I even gave Zumba a go for a year. Now, I work out five times a week, walk the three miles to and from work each day and walk the family dog at weekends. I jumped on the scales this morning to see what I was down to. At 18 stone it’s still not where I’d like to be but I’d like to think I’ve got the direction of travel right. The memories of who I used to be might be uncomfortable but they’re also a great motivator to help me live a healthier and more enjoyable life.

Gareth Jenkins, Editor.

Ps. Here’s a more recent photo from this afternoon.

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What I’m reading this week

Seeking Clues to Obesity in Rare Hunger Disorder
The New York Times
Lisa Tremblay still recalls in horror the time her daughter Kristin pulled a hot dog crawling with ants from the garbage at a cookout and prepared to swallow it.

The mega-city no one has heard of
Al Jazeera
Hanzhong, China - With four million people, Hanzhong's population is the rough equivalent of Los Angeles yet outside of China, almost no one has heard of it.

Even within the world's most populous country, the city is hardly well-known, its existence usually qualified with the sentence: "It's a few hours away from Xian."

Man Sues Toothpaste Maker Because He's Never Attracted A Woman Like Their Ads Promised
Bustle
The headline says it all.

Costing secrecy
Vox, Professor Mark Harrison
“Democracy often seems bureaucratic with high ‘transaction costs’, while autocracies seem to get things done at lower cost. This column discusses historical research that refutes this. It finds empirical support from Soviet archives for a political security/usability trade-off. Regimes that are secure from public scrutiny tend to be more costly to operate.”

Mark’s written a follow up blog as well.


May 28, 2013

We Have The Means To Change The World For The Better

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. A sculpture commemorating the life of one of the scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA.
A blog post by Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz FRS, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge

Although any individual and organisation might change the world, universities are positively expected to do so. Through our teaching we change individual lives as a matter of routine; through our research, time after time, we change the way the world works.

Not only that, but we change it, consistently, for the better. 'To contribute to society' is not only part of a formal mission statement (of my university and many others), but it resonates in the daily activities of our staff and students.

Universities are rightly regarded as critical national assets. Governments the world over see them as vital sources of new knowledge and innovative thinking, as providers of skilled personnel and credible credentials, as critical friends and auditors of policies, as attractors of international talent and business investment, as agents of social justice and mobility, and as contributors to social and cultural vitality. We store knowledge and pass it from one generation to another, we are part of the civic establishment, and we are national and regional symbols. No other sort of organisation has such an astonishing remit, and no other sort of organization delivers such indispensable benefits to society.

How on earth to we manage all this? I offer three answers. Firstly, we integrate knowledge. Universities' disciplinary scope is, naturally enough, universal. Within the creative diversity of a university community, we can support scholars working across the disciplinary spectrum: those who work alone in libraries and with databases, deepening their, and our, understanding of a focused topic; and those who work in teams in laboratories and in the field. Their work would be of immense value on its own, but as integrative institutions we can also make connections between them, making the whole genuinely greater than the sum of the parts and marshalling expertise to address problems bigger than any single scholar's or research group’s capacity.

Secondly, we cleave to autonomy. The single greatest inhibitor of transformative excellence is excessive direction of ideas. We create autonomy within our institutions, and defend our institutional autonomy in wider society. The greatest biological discovery of the twentieth century was made in a physics laboratory: it is wholly imaginable that Crick and Watson’s collaboration might have been derailed by overzealous tidiness in internal structures and a line-management direction of research. (I am pleased that Cambridge is rarely accused of either!) Externally, we loudly and rightly assert our independence from governments and from other funders, including industry.

And thirdly, we are constantly relevant, both adapting to the society which we serve, and shaping it. Creating economic growth at home, and addressing poverty and hunger in developing countries, are among the pressing urgencies facing global society, and universities like mine are quick, and keen, to respond: we have both the capacity and the will to do so, in ways that are creative, productive, and surprising. The world does not look to its universities for predictable tweaks and short-term fixes, but for challenging, ground-breaking, world-bridging innovation.

It is a matter of fierce pride to all of us who work in universities that with astonishing frequency - though not regularity or predictability - we contribute ideas, technologies, and concepts that shatter preconceptions and change the world for the better.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: A sculpture commemorating the life of one of the scientists who discovered the double helix structure of DNA. As students at Cambridge, Francis Crick, who was born in Weston Favell, Northampton and American James Watson both unlocked the key of life in 1953. The scientists, along with Maurice Wilkins, were awarded a Nobel Prize in 1962 for their work on DNA. The steel sculpture called Discovery is installed in Abington Street, Northampton. Source: (Flickr)

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Image. Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz University of Cambridge. In 2010, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz became the 345th Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge having previously been Chief Executive of the UK's Medical Research Council from 2007 and Principal of the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London. Professor Borysiewicz was knighted in the 2001 New Year's Honours List for his contribution to medical education and research into developing vaccines.





No To Generation Jobless: Ensuring Our Kids Have A Future

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Greek riots - protester stands in front of cloud of smoke.

A blog post by Dr Nemat Shafik, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Updated 31 May 2013

Financial markets have staged an impressive recovery in recent months. Thanks to the actions of policymakers, the global economy no longer looks quite as treacherous as it did six months ago. But in many parts of the world, there is no sense that the crisis is over. In far too many countries, improvements in financial markets have not translated into improvements in the real economy—and in the lives of people. More than 200 million people are out of work today. Many of these are young people. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), 73 million young people globally are looking for a job.

The result, according to The Economist, is an “arc of unemployment”, stretching from Southern Europe through North Africa and the Middle East to South Asia. In Spain, Greece, and Portugal, 40-55 per cent of all young people cannot find jobs. In the Middle East, youth unemployment is expected to reach 30 per cent. The picture in North Africa is almost as bleak, with youth unemployment at more than 23 per cent.

Youth unemployment has long-term consequences for economic growth because of the loss or degradation of human capital. It has been found to leave a “wage scar” in the form of lower earnings that can last into middle age, and has been linked to lower life expectancy and higher crime rates. Youth unemployment also has a corrosive effect on society itself—one that becomes very difficult to redress as time goes by. As the ILO noted in its most recent report, “Perhaps the most important scarring is in terms of the current youth generation’s distrust in the socioeconomic and political systems.”

The most effective way to create jobs is through growth. Policies to re-launch growth must therefore be given priority. But policymakers can also deploy labour market policies to spur job creation more directly. Options include education and training programmes, hiring and wage subsidies, public works programmes, child care subsidies, and lower taxes on labour.

In terms of near-term prospects, the outlook for growth is mixed at best. Even though global growth is showing signs of strengthening, the IMF does not expect it to be much higher this year than last year. Our latest forecast projects 3.3 per cent growth in 2013, and four per cent in 2014.

We have been advising our member countries to address three overarching issues that have been with us since the beginning of the crisis. They include financial sector reform; more balanced global demand; and more emphasis on growth, jobs, and equity.

But even if we assume that policymakers do all the right things, it will take years before growth will be enough to make significant inroads into youth unemployment. So governments need to think outside the box. This is where labour market and education policies come into play. Here, however, what may have worked five years ago may no longer work today because of the fast-changing nature of the work place.

Technology is profoundly transforming the nature of work, as argued by New York Times columnist Tom Friedman. It used to be that 85 per cent was just showing up. Now, he says, “average is over.” Everyone has to bring something extra—their own unique contribution to the value chain. Jobs are constantly re-engineered, and innovation has become a survival skill.

Is more education the answer? Across the OECD, people who left school at the earliest opportunity are twice as likely to be unemployed as university graduates. But it is also true that many people with expensive liberal-arts degrees are finding it impossible to get decent jobs, writes The Economist. In North Africa, university graduates are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-graduates.

There is also the issue of cost to consider. Will people still be willing to pay $500,000 for a degree from Harvard or Stanford? Or will more young people opt for online certificates costing $500 from course providers that provide qualifications in many different areas? Will the model of three to four years of university be replaced by true lifelong learning delivered in a more tailored way to support careers that evolve over a lifetime?

While young people in advanced countries grapple with the high cost of higher education, their counterparts in developing countries, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, face much more basic challenges. Many young people in these countries leave school poorly educated, and enter the world of work without the knowledge, skills, or behaviors necessary to adapt to changes in the economy and their lives.

Clearly, the challenges are enormous. The future of millions of young people around the world is at stake. To solve the problems of youth unemployment, restoring global growth is crucial, as are policies to support job creation. None of this can be achieved without global cooperation. We at the IMF, with our 188 member countries, will do all we can to restore global growth.

But rethinking education is also an important part of the answer. You, the educators, can play a crucial role in charting a path out of the crisis for youth. But you, too, will need to rethink how you carry out your mandate. The world’s young people do not just need more education—they need education relevant to a very different labour market and world economy than we have ever faced before."

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image:Greek Riots, 2008 Source: (Flickr)

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Image. Dr Nemat Shafik IMFNemat Shafik assumed the position of Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund on April 11, 2011.

A national of Egypt, the UK, and the USA , Dr Shafik is a global citizen with a global reputation in fields ranging from emerging markets, international development, the Middle East and Africa, to the financial sector. She brings to the IMF a wealth of experience in policy-making, management, and academia.




Applicable to the real world: the future of research

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. WMG Robotics - students at the University of Warwick
An interview with Dr Richard Hutchins, Director of the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG)


If the future of the higher education is virtual (as every blog and newspaper article about MOOCs would have you believe), does the success of WMG (using the Fraunhofer model) contradict this?

I’m not entirely convinced that going ‘totally virtual’ is the way forward, because there are huge advantages to companies, academics and students working side-by-side and sparking off each other. Secondly the fact that for this type of industrial research, where we work with companies in the manufacturing and advanced engineering sector, it inevitably requires people to have access to physical kit and technology. So I think there is a strong case to co-locate facilities that allow for all of those things to happen.

How would you asses the current state of the UK’s higher education sector’s relationships with business (and therefore economic growth) compared to the rest of the world?

I don’t think there is any doubt that the UK is right up there when it comes to higher education collaboration with industry. It’s the only way to go because we cannot rely on the government, public sector and the public purse to fund higher education research and teaching in the future in the way that it has done in the past. So we have to make our research and our teaching more applicable to the real world; the only way to do that is to connect it to the market place, which is working with industry and working with countries. All of the countries that are shooting up in terms of economic growth clearly connect universities with business or connect business with universities. China, most notably, where companies effectively sponsor universities and the development of universities. We see a number of collaborations of that type in Beijing.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit this week (w/c 27 May 2013), which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders related to higher education that would benefit the sector, what would that be?

We need to be promoting the freer exchange of students and knowledge across international boundaries. When it comes down to things like that, it means student visas; it means free exchange of intellectual property. Not all easy things to do but things which will undoubtedly help to unlock economic growth in all nations.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: WMG Robot Team, April 2013. Source: (University of Warwick)

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Image. Dr Richard Hutchins WMGDr Richard Hutchins is responsible for leading WMG's interface and work with Jaguar Land Rover, including support for JLR's Government Affairs and Government Programmes teams. Leading the development of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers. Leading our work with Local Enterprise Partnerships. He is a non-executive director of WMMC (Manufacturing Advisory Service).



Universities driving economic growth

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Students in the Wolfson Research Exchange, University of Warwick

A blog post by Dirk Van Damme, Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress division, OECD

In most OECD countries economic growth is now driven to a higher degree by intangible assets than by traditional capital such as machinery or equipment. Knowledge, data, patents, and human capital are the new sources of growth. And innovation in these intellectual assets will spur growth to take off again. The quantity and quality of intellectual innovation will not only determine when and how countries will find the way out of the recession, but also the post-recession new global economic order.

As key players in the knowledge chain, universities constitute the main institutional framework for the creation of intellectual capital. Either they can foster and accelerate knowledge-based growth or they can hamper it. Because they mainly are situated upstream in the knowledge creation process, compared to firms and businesses themselves, they act as gatekeepers: either economic growth is nurtured by a large flow of innovative knowledge and human capital, or the economy and society at large only reap a weak stream of mediocre knowledge and competences. Universities achieve this mission in basically two ways: by conducting cutting edge research – which is added to the knowledge base of the global scientific system and transformed into applicable knowledge with industry and by educating knowledge workers with the right skills sets which can drive innovation and productivity increases.

With regard to human capital development, the second function, over the past couple of decades universities in OECD countries have been able to cope with an increasing demand, driven by a social mobility aspiration in the population, and to deliver an ever increasing number of graduates to the labour market. Given the production time of high-level skills and all kinds of institutional hindrances or social expectations, it is of course impossible for universities to exactly follow the economic conjuncture and the specificities of the skills demand. Overall however, data on graduate employment, earnings premiums and returns on educational investment show that fears for exaggerated massification and over-schooling are not confirmed.

In delivering the human capital the knowledge economy needs, universities are massively contributing to the creation of wealth. Between 2000 and 2010 more than half of GDP growth in OECD countries was related to labour income growth among higher-educated individuals. The returns to society and the public purse over the lifetime of a graduate are many times greater than the upfront investment in educating that individual.

Still, the main challenge for universities regarding human capital development is whether they are educating for the kind of skills the innovation economy of the twenty-first century needs. Short-term skill mismatches – with graduate unemployment at a time where employers have unfilled vacancies – are symptomatic. But even more important is the question of whether universities are not conservatively following the old, conventional ways in which human knowledge is codified and professions are organised, rather than to radically choose for the skills which foster innovation in the twenty-first century.

With regard to the knowledge creation function through research, the first function, a lot of data underlines the critical importance of investing in high-level research in order to drive innovation in the economy. However, the challenge seems not to be to maintain high absolute levels of research investment, but to improve research efficiency, i.e. the relationship between research input and output. Many of the innovative economies in the OECD are not the absolute centres of academic excellence, but seem to have improved their research efficiency. World-class universities – those in the top 20 of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings – combine extremely high research investments with high outputs. But the dynamic sub-top of universities, often to be found in emerging countries in the global science system, combine much lower investments with equally high outputs. These countries are not (yet) the BRICs, but are to be found in the immediate neighbourhood: Switzerland, Benelux, France and Scandinavian countries.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Students in the Wolfson Research Exchange. Source: (University of Warwick)

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Image. Dirk Van Damme, OECDDirk Van Damme currently is Head of the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division (IMEP) in the Directorate for Education at the OECD in Paris. He holds a PhD in educational sciences from Ghent University and is also professor of educational sciences in the same university (since 1995). He also was part-time professor in comparative education at the Free University of Brussels (1997-2000) and visiting professor of comparative education at Seton Hall University, NJ, USA (2001-2008). He was general director of the Flemish Rectors’ Conference, the main advisory body for higher education policy in the Flemish part of Belgium between 2000 and 2003. He has been professionally involved in educational policy development between 1992 and 2008, and served as chief of staff of Mr Frank Vandenbroucke, Flemish minister of education between 2004 and 2008. His current interests are evidence-based innovation in education, comparative analyses of educational systems, new developments in the learning sciences and knowledge management in education. At the OECD he is responsible for the Innovation and Measuring Progress Division, covering both the Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) and the Indicators of Educational Systems (INES) programme.


May 24, 2013

Changing World Orders and Implications for the University Sector

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus


Image. Delft University of Technology campus shot.

A blog post by Dirk Jan van den Berg, President of Delft University of Technology

The rise of the BRICK nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea) is one of the defining changes of the post-Cold War world. The growing economic potential of these markets is well documented but, what is (still), less commonly discussed is the massive impact these emerging powers are bringing to bear on the global research and knowledge landscape.

Take the pioneering work of the Thomson Reuters Web of Knowledge Research Project, for instance. In 1973, about two thirds of the nearly 400,000 academic research publications indexed by Thomson Reuters came from the G7 countries. Today, four times as many documents (around 1.75 million journal publications) are being indexed, and half originate from outside the G7.

This is a nothing less than a sea change, driven by the exponential growth in investment in research and development in the BRICKs. Inevitably, this trend has massive implications for universities right across the world, not least in the G7. In Europe, for example, the heritage and reputation of our universities have long underpinned our economic growth. Any significant deterioration of their international standing threatens to eventually undermine our future prosperity. The choice is simple: adapt or gradually decay. For Delft, our strategy has two principle elements.

Firstly, we have redoubled our efforts to attract the best scientists. Education and research are increasingly characterised by international co-operation and funding, and we welcome the rich opportunities offered by recruiting both academics and students from across the world.

The landmark discovery last year by Delft of the Majorana particle, for example, was the result of a collaborative effort by a Dutch PhD student and a Chinese colleague, under the supervision of Professor Leo Kouwenhoven. In today’s world, such partnerships are the norm and universities that see national borders risk becoming irrelevant.

Secondly, if European universities want to continue undertaking research at the highest level, we have to both develop better facilities (e.g. laboratories), and give more of our scientists the opportunity to work where the best campuses increasingly are (the BRICKS) -- whilst, of course, ensuring their know-how continues to benefit Europe.

The facilities of European universities, in general, are simply unable to keep up with international developments. Some are doing well, but the BRICK competition is generally advancing much faster.

Enhancing European campuses (many buildings of which date back many decades) is a precondition for attracting and retaining Europe’s knowledge capital, for more competitive EU universities in the global battle for brains, and for supporting innovation in the economy. To secure this improvement, we need to become better at sharing knowledge about campus improvement and management. Key tools to enable this would include ‘campus stress tests’, including performance benchmarks such as inter-university collaboration, space utilisation, ecological footprint, total costs, shared university-city functions. The reason why Europe has fallen behind, quite simply, is money. Whilst funding of many European universities is being eroded all the time, countries like China are investing amounts unimaginable to us in facilities. Their scientific quality generally stills falls short of ours, but their facilities are well ahead.

For leading researchers in many fields, China is becoming the place to be. And that is why Delft has opened four research centres there. In partnership with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a Beijing Research Centre is engaged mainly in research on solid state lighting; with Hohai University in Nanjing, a water research centre is focused upon delta technology and hydrology; with Wuhan University we have launched a centre for geo-information, geodesy and earth observation; and with South China University of Technology, in Guangzhou, we have started the Research Centre for Urban Systems and Environment. This represents the next stage in Delft’s global strategy. In a context where education and research are more international, and increasingly gravitating online, we are planting pieces of Delft University in the places where they have the best chance of flourishing and where the greatest yields in knowledge are to be had. And that is no longer in the Netherlands, but in the BRICKs.

In each of these four research fields (solid state lighting, water, geo-information, and urban systems) the Netherlands is a world knowledge leader. And in all of these areas of infrastructure development, China’s rapid growth means it is facing need for major new innovation and expertise in these areas. The case for collaboration is clear.

As research in science and technology knows no national borders, it is very likely we will see major research hubs developing, connected through a global network of research activity. A lot of focus is being placed on ICT technologies as a carrier of international research cooperation. However there will be no clicks without bricks and the major research hubs will develop where research infrastructure and vibrant eco-systems are best.

Top researchers will thus go to the emerging focal points of their disciplines. We have to make sure that these focal points will not be in Asia or the US alone. Europe needs to defend its rich and productive academic legacy and make sure that it plays a full role in leading edge research through strong European hubs in a global network of research cooperation.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Delft University of Technology. Source: (tuxboard)
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Image. Dr D.J. van den Berg TU Delft UniversityDirk Jan van den Berg is President of Delft University of Technology, and was formerly the Dutch Ambassador to China and the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.






May 23, 2013

The Art of Partnership

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus


Image. University of Southampton WSA Degree Show Preparation 2008

A blog post by Dame Helen Alexander, Chancellor of the University of Southampton

The greatest collaborations between industry and universities involve true partnership. Developing these partnerships, however, is a slow process, and needs to be carefully nurtured.

The University of Southampton, where I am chancellor, experiences the whole range of interactions with business at regional, national and international levels. The first, and the hardest to quantify, is the production of highly educated and trained people. Degree programmes and professional training all develop people with the skills and qualities which businesses need. As with many universities, there are companies who rely on our university to produce the graduates they require, and many work with us on developing the curricula or offering work experience.

Companies with good experience of a university, and the graduates it produces, often take the next step in the relationship; they identify individual projects where the university can help their business to develop further. To be successful, universities must see such contract research as a key part of their mission. They need both academic staff who understand and can deliver to business requirements and timescales, and processes which make such contract research easier to deliver within a busy university environment. The universities who are best at doing this, Southampton included, have developed this capability over many decades. They need staff with significant experience in working with companies, and often have dedicated units for contract research. It is essential that these units stay deeply connected to the rest of the university, and can draw upon expertise from across the disciplines.

True partnerships between companies and universities come after many years of working together, where a synergy develops as both sides understand the other’s needs. Sometimes the company in question has a standard model for how to do this. Rolls Royce, for instance, has established University Technology Centres in higher education institutions (HEIs) across the world, each focussing on a different set of technological or engineering problems. The University of Southampton hosts two such centres (in gas turbine noise and computational engineering). Other major companies such as Microsoft, BAE and Unilever do the same.

The strongest partnerships of all are achieved when a company and a university find they are almost mutually co-dependent, and both adapt their own systems and structures to make the partnership stronger. In Southampton, we have a relationship with Lloyd’s Register dating back more than 40 years, which has passed through all of the stages outlined above. As a result, we are, together, constructing a new campus, which will co-locate 400 engineers from Lloyd’s Register, with engineers and scientists from the University. The two partners are sharing the £115m cost in a project heralded as the largest such business-focused endeavour in any UK university. And we are now using that development as a platform to work with them in Singapore, in the USA and around the world.

Such partnerships bring some of the greatest business impacts from universities. Partnership brings huge rewards, but is hard, time-consuming and involves compromise. You only become the partner of someone you know well. The trust, the confidence, the comfort of working together in this way builds slowly. You can’t rush it.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Southampton University WSA Degree Show Preparation 2008. Source: (Flickr)

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Image. Dame Helen Alexander University of SouthamptonDame Helen Alexander, Chancellor of the University of Southampton, chairman of UBM plc, Incisive Media and the Port of London Authority. Dame Helen was president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) until June 2011. Dame Helen was chief executive of the Economist Group until 2008, having joined the company in 1985 and been managing director of the Economist Intelligence Unit from 1993 to 1997.




The Research Triangle

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Penrose triangle

A blog post by Simon Bradley, Vice-President of EADS

In 2012, Sir Tim Wilson recommended the creation of a new centre based on university and industry collaboration, a place to share best practice across industrial sectors as well as encouraging companies who traditionally do not enter this model, usually smaller to medium size, to see the real value of such collaborations. Overall aims included the gathering and maintaining of a comprehensive repository of good practice, the undertaking of commissioned studies and a place to provide reliable information sources for future substantive reviews on the topic. In 2013, this recommendation was delivered with the opening of the National Centre for Universities & Business (NCUB) – run under the auspices of the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE).

Why is this important to us? For EADS, upstream investment (TRL 1–4) is vital to the success of the group and has enabled us to design and build truly historic products, from the engines on-board the LZ-1 Zeppelin (which flew in 1900), to the world’s first commercial radio broadcast in 1920 or Concorde in 1969 and the Airbus A380 today. Worldwide, we are ranked as the thirtieth largest-spending company worldwide in R&D, at €3.9bn (Rank position from 2012). When the Department for Business Innovation & Skills produced its UK R&D scorecard report, listing the 1,000 top UK and global companies, based upon R&D investment, EADS was ranked number one (including its subsidiaries Airbus, Cassidian, Eurocopter and Astrium) based on foreign-owned (as defined by BIS) R&D investment in the UK.

So what is the problem? Finding the jewels that transfer from ideas into real technology that delivers business benefit is a non-exact science, which requires all parties to understand the value of failure as well as that of success. For every project that delivers there are perhaps five, ten or even 100 that do not. Critical breakthroughs happen in our labs but crucially they also happen in universities, SMEs and other companies – we need to be able to locate, nurture and integrate these breakthrough technologies in a manner that benefits all stakeholders. We need to engender trust relationships so that long terms partnerships can flourish and people are open to sharing their technology. How do we do this?

In Wales we have pioneered the EADS Foundation for Wales, a not-for profit, limited by guarantee company, which has a triangle of stakeholders – industry, academia and government. This foundation encourages anyone with an idea to pitch their technology within a number of grand challenges; these are defined as areas of importance to industry and also to Wales. Each stakeholder contributes, either cash or in-kind resource, and external SMEs, academics and others can apply for funding through a wave process that allows very quick decision making and incremental awards based on results. The key to the success of the Foundation is adopting a trust relationship; all background IP is respected and any new IP created is placed under the ownership of the Foundation. Once a project is ready for exploitation, the IP can then be purchased at an independently valued market rate.

The next stage, for Wales, is to roll out this Foundation model across other sectors, not just aerospace and defence, encouraging other large companies to invest into this model and increase the Welsh SME eco-system, feeding into the supply chains of the major companies and providing a means for smaller companies to work with academia and perform real R&D without using up precious funding.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Penrose Triangle. Source: (Flickr)
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Image. Simon Bradley, EADS, standing next to a DalekSimon Bradley started his career with British Airways before becoming part of the design team for the system architecture behind the secure communications platform at No. 10 Downing Street. After the successful implementation of the system he joined the United Nations. Simon Bradley joined EADS in 2006 and, in 2011, Simon started his latest challenge working for the Global Innovation Network team within the Office of the Chief Technical Officer, Dr Jean Botti. Simon is a visiting Professor at Aberystwyth University(Prifysgol Aberystwyth) in Wales, a member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Wales and is a regular keynote speaker at conferences on systems engineering, homeland security and innovation.


Inherently Global: Higher Education and Economic Impact

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Stars and planes across the Toronto skyline


A blog post by Dr Joanna Newman, Director, UK Higher Education International Unit

A world-class higher education system is essential for growth and competitiveness in a global knowledge economy. An excellent modern higher education system demands internationalisation in staff, students, partners and outlook. Many UK universities are already leading global enterprises in their own right. With fierce and growing global competition in higher education, and no fat to cut in the highly productive UK system, the need to collaborate with international partners is greater than ever.

As institutions rooted in their communities, they draw visitors, businesses and investment to their cities and regions and act as anchors for skills and enterprise. A high-tech cluster is a rare phenomenon, but every ten international university students in the UK support six local jobs.

Higher education alone is one of the UK’s largest export earners, at over £8 billion a year, and has the potential to more than double in value by 2025. Research and innovation, the key drivers of long term productivity, are already inherently global. Universities are central to attracting and retaining globally mobile investment (and 23 per cent of UK R&D is from abroad, more than any large economy). Just as importantly, they attract and network global talent. Students considering their prospects in an increasingly globalised labour market are realising that future employers will expect the cultural agility to communicate and work with members of a cosmopolitan team, so offering outbound international experience will be important to attracting domestic students and creating global employable graduates.

The UK higher education sector’s leading position, second in the world as a study destination and for research quality, is an asset for one country that brings economic benefits around the world; improving employment rates and wages for returning graduates, assisting international development and building the capacity of emerging powers. Sharing a home with international universities gives business access to talent and new knowledge, the capacity to absorb innovation from elsewhere and the contacts to trade. The government scholarship schemes launched by fast-growing nations show that higher education mobility is an investment priority of the innovation economies of the future.

Universities’ links with other academics, industry or policy makers are often the leading edge of wider international collaboration. Indeed, the World Wide Web itself had its origins in improving international research collaboration. Links between universities and business are vital, growing and global, but the largest and most transformative economic impacts from higher education come precisely because the core mission of universities is to create and impart knowledge. This essential mission creates relationships of trust that can endure short-term market fluctuations, and innovate far ahead of a market application.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Stars and Planes. Source: (Flickr).

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Image. Dr Joanna NewmanDr Joanna Newman represents the International Unit on the International Education Advisory Forum, is a board member of the School of Advanced Studies and regularly represents the sector on national and international platforms. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Southampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.


May 21, 2013

Fundamental Curiosity: The Dynamic Of The University

Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/knowledge/business/gus

Image. Rodin

A Q and A with Professor Tim Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor: Research (Science and Medicine), Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, University of Warwick.


What do you think is the most under-hyped, yet significant, change universities in the UK will undergo during the next decade?

I don’t know if it’s necessarily under-hyped but I think the private provision of higher education will completely change the dynamic in the future. I think a number of universities will be threatened very significantly. Private provision will expand and will change the way universities have to behave and operate in a very, very significant way.

And do you think global providers have an advantage?

Almost certainly yes, I mean the US is a classic example, and I think the UK is behind the curve with this certainly compared to some countries.

Open-access research: is the UK shooting itself in the foot or are we leading the way?

There is no doubt that open access research is a great thing in principle, however I think being first is not necessarily a good thing. So I would argue we are shooting ourselves in the foot because I don’t necessarily see the rest of the world following. I think the UK is going to be in a very difficult position.

The University of Warwick is hosting the 2013 Global University Summit in May, which will issue a formal declaration on higher education to the G8. If you could get one commitment from the summit of world leaders, what would that be?

It would be to ensure that universities remain establishments of academic research and scholarships and are no skewed too much by the agendas of governments around the world, where economic growth seems to be the raison d’être for the existence of universities. Don’t skew universities too much towards being engines of economic growth; don’t change the dynamic of the way the university operates. Don’t discriminate against intellectual, fundamental, curiosity driven education and research that continues to attract the very very best students and academics, who are free thinkers and are not constrained by government thinking and policy.

This blog is part of a regular series on the Knowledge Centre looking at issues in higher education ahead of the Global University Summit (May 28-30 2013), hosted by the University of Warwick in Whitehall, London. As part of the Summit, a declaration of commitment and policy recommendations will be drawn up for the G8 summit of world leaders, taking place in Northern Ireland in June.

Image: Auguste Rodin's Le Penseur (The Thinker). Source: (Flickr).
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Image Professor Tim Jones, University of WarwickAs Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Transfer and Business Engagement, Professor Tim Jones has responsibility for development of the University of Warwick’s knowledge transfer and business engagement strategy to support the University’s research and teaching ambitions through corporate level regional, national and international relationships with business partners. He also works with the Registrar and Chief Operating Officer to maximise the impact of the University HEIF allocations and lead engagements with relevant external bodies.He also has responsibility for the University’s Science research strategy, including the development of research opportunities and collaborations both nationally and internationally and the raising of research income, publications and citation scores in the Faculty of Science.


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