HC Deb 01 December 1992 vol 215 cc123-4W
Dr. Moonie

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what responsibilities the Office of Science and Technology has for the promotion of technology transfer from the public sector research base into industry.

Mr. Waldegrave

The Office of Science and Technology supports many initiatives through the five research councils to encourage the transfer of technology from higher education institutes or publicly funded research establishments to companies.

The initiatives supported by the OST through the research councils are:

  1. 1. The LINK scheme which encourages companies to become involved at the pre-competitive stage of research. To date 30 programmes have been announced involving almost 300 active projects, with many more under consideration. Overall funding for these programmes is currently £410 million, made up of equal inputs from Government and 124 industry. Most programmes involve both research councils and one or more HEIs alongside other Government Departments and industry.
  2. 2. The teaching company scheme (TCS) which arranges partnership programmes between companies and HEIs. Able graduates ("Associates") are employed on two-year contracts to undertake a specific project within a company. TCS announced their 1000th programme earlier this year. At present, there are over 400 TCS programmes in operation involving around 450 Associates. The TCS is organised jointly by SERC and DTI; ESRC and other Departments are also involved.
  3. 3. Integrated graduate development scheme (IGDS). This scheme is run by the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC); it enables graduates in employment to undertake postgraduate training at masters level in a part-time modular form. Twelve programmes are running at present; there will be six intakes in 1992–93 and six more are planned. Costs are shared between SERC and the company.
  4. 4. Collaborative awards in science and engineering (CASE): these entail industrial sponsorship of research post-graduates by companies based in the United Kingdom. Since 1990 an average of 1,000 students have taken up CASE awards. The student receives a normal studentship from a research council plus additional maintenance grant, and spends a minimum of two months with the company. A similar scheme arising from a review conducted by Dr. J. Parnaby (SERC) enhances the stipends of students working towards engineering PhDs. This new doctorate course will include a higher content of industrial engineering and work experience in industry. The scheme started on a pilot basis in September 1992.
  5. 5. Postgraduate training partnerships (PTPS): this is a joint OST/Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) pilot scheme started in 1992–93. In the first year some 50 postgraduate students are carrying out research for their higher degree at the five partnerships between an industrial research organisation and higher education institution.
  6. 6. Application of computers to manufacturing engineering (ACME): among other things ACME co-funds club-type initiatives whereby groups of companies benefit from new technology developed in HEIs. There has been SERC funding of about £40 million since 1984–85, and 520 schemes since inception.
  7. 7. Interdisciplinary research centres (IRCs): the IRCs, jointly financed by the research councils and industry, were set up with the purpose of performing research in 'fusion' areas which would be of broad relevance to industry. There are 19 IRCs with another two (in human toxicity and brain repair) planned. There are 868 full-time equivalent staff employed in IRCs.
  8. 8. Engineering design centres: are based in universities; there are now seven of these centres and many of them have close links with industry.
  9. 9. Industrial fellowships: this is a scheme supervised by the Royal Society which manages a two-way flow of senior researchers (at the senior lecturer or industrial equivalent level) in order that a specific research project can be completed. Currently, there are about 5 fellows per annum.
  10. 10. Total technology: is a scheme whereby engineering postgraduates work towards a PhD while interacting closely with industry: the project work has to be completed in industry, under joint academic and industrial supervision.
  11. 11. Royal Academy of Engineering industrial secondment scheme: enables academics to be seconded into industry, particularly SMEs, to do research which would not normally be undertaken by SME concerns. The scheme grant pays for the replacement teaching staff in the HEI while the academic is seconded. Currently, there are four or five secondments per annum.
  12. 12. Centre for Exploitation of Science and Technology (CEST): this body is jointly funded by OST, DTI and industry. Many of its projects are concerned with exploiting new technology and finding applications for new technology more widely in industry. Most projects involve science base organisations.

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