HC Deb 17 June 1999 vol 333 cc557-8
15. Valerie Davey (Bristol, West)

What action he is taking to promote a more entrepreneurial culture among academic scientists. [86507]

The Minister for Competition and Consumer Affairs (Dr. Kim Howells)

I refer my hon. Friend to the competitiveness White Paper published last December. A number of initiatives set out in that paper will help academic scientists to become more entrepreneurial, including the £25 million science enterprise challenge, which will create up to eight university centres to equip scientists and engineers with entrepreneurship and business skills.

Valerie Davey

I welcome that response. Will my hon. Friend congratulate Bristol university on becoming one of the 12 that have succeeded in the first round of the bid for the science enterprise challenge?

Mr. Eric Forth (Bromley and Chislehurst)

It says here.

Valerie Davey

Does my hon. Friend agree that helping universities to develop long-term strategies for interaction with business is good for individuals, the economy and Britain?

Mr. Forth

Who wrote that one out for the hon. Lady?

Dr. Howells

I congratulate Bristol university on a tremendous achievement that builds on the great reputation of the university, a reputation that does not deserve to draw heckling from the right hon. Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Mr. Forth). For too long, the UK has been adept at locking away intellectual capital in our universities, rendering it commercially redundant. The Government are determined to break with the past, and to see companies spin off from our universities in the way that they should have done long ago. The indolence of the Conservative party during its long years in Government wasted many of our innovative and entrepreneurial skills. That will not happen under our Government.

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