Universities are increasingly called upon to conduct research that has demonstrable impact. Scholarly work investigating this topic has so far focused on the most visible forms of commercialisation, such as licensing, and spin-off companies. While these activities are clearly important, less attention has been paid to other types of engagement, including collaborative research, consulting and contract research, even though they are relatively more common than the high-profile activities. Furthermore, there is even less work on whether and how collaborative engagement between academics and industry functions as a seedbed for spin-offs and licences.
With the support of EPSRC and European Commission, we have established a research project that will use Imperial College London as a site for exploring the above issues.