New initiative connects business with universities

A new initiative by the N8 Research Partnership has been announced today (Monday 12 December 2011) in line with the BIS Innovation and Research Strategy 2012, published last week, and highlights the N8 as an exemplar model for driving innovation and growth in the economy.

The new initiative, called the Industry Innovation Forum, aims to connect leading businesses with research intensive universities and other key organisations to create new ideas, insights and innovations across a range of sectors. The main objective of the Industry Innovation Forum will be to create new collaborations between industry and the research base to drive innovation, competitive advantage and growth. It will maximise linkages and market pull between private sector R&D, industrial and consumer needs and the world class research base in the UK.

Led by the N8 Research Partnership, the initial partners of the Industry Innovation Forum will be the Northern research intensive universities and global firms involved with research and development, including AstraZeneca, Croda, National Nuclear Laboratory, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, Siemens, Smith & Nephew and Unilever. The N8 are working on the delivery plans for the Forum with the Technology Strategy Board.

The first Industry Innovation Forum event, supported by the Technology Strategy Board, will take place on 1 February 2012. Forum meetings are held on specific themes chosen by businesses where there is a need to match industry challenges and ideas with new insights and solutions from the research base. Detailed discussions with industry partners highlighted that advanced materials was an area, across a range of sectors, where industry were looking for new and exciting possibilities from the research base. The first event will focus on this and through a series of industrial challenge led discussions, new industry to industry and industry to academic partnerships will be created. Industry partners benefit from utilising the combined expertise and capabilities of the N8 Research Partnership, which provides an opportunity for efficient and effective access to the N8 science base like never before.

Professor Trevor McMillan, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at Lancaster University and Chair of the N8 Pro Vice Chancellors Group, said: “The Industry Innovation Forum is a new way of working to stimulate new ideas and insights through academic and industry partners working together, on a cross sector basis. We have listened to our industry partners, and we are designing the Forum so that their innovation needs can be matched with possibilities from the science base.”

Professor Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield and Chair of the N8 Research Partnership, comments: “The Industry Innovation Forum demonstrates how we are using the power of 8 universities working together to support industry in the commercialisation of science and technology. The aim is to support innovation across a range of sectors, which can create growth and new jobs in our economy.”

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: “This new initiative, which the Technology Strategy Board is piloting and supporting jointly with N8, aims to create new and innovative approaches through which businesses large and small can work together with Universities, leading to the co-creation of ideas and opportunities and the translation of new research and technology into products and services that can be brought to market. Essentially this is open innovation in action, and if successful, we see considerable scope and potential to roll it out further in the future.”

The N8 Innovation Forum will officially launch in February 2012.

Visit to find out more.



For press enquiries, please contact Sarah Jackson, Director, N8 Research Partnership
07766 991942, [email protected].


Notes to Editors

About N8

The N8 Research Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York, which utilises the combined expertise and capabilities of these research intensive universities.

The N8 Universities have been working together to support innovation and new job creation in the Northern economy since the programme started with investment from the Northern Way in 2008. As well as this, partnerships with LEPs and Local Authorities have been strengthened in order to support policy development and service delivery through cutting edge social sciences research.

The centres that N8 created (regener8 and METRC) focus on bringing new technology and therapies to market in order to create jobs, businesses and to benefit society as a whole. This is achieved through collaboration between universities, SMEs, larger R&D companies and also the NHS. Together the centres have so far worked with over 200 businesses, many of which are SMEs, and created 60 jobs since they were formed in 2008.

Regener8 and METRC plan to ambitiously build on this over the next three years with the creation of over 50 new jobs in the North of England by 2014, 120 collaborative projects between universities and industry, and leveraging a further £20 million investment in collaborative research and innovation.