A new report from the UK Manufacturing Forum (UKMF) has been released today setting out five key recommendations to address the barriers to fostering collaboration between academia and industry.

Particularly in high growth areas like advanced manufacturing, successful collaboration between universities and industry is key for a country to succeed in a globally competitive and constantly evolving landscape.

The Bridging the Academic-Industrial Gap: Recommendations for UK Collaboration and Funding report is based on workshops and consultations with key stakeholders and the wider community between 2019 and 2021.

The High Value Manufacturing Catapult was commissioned to produce the report in December 2019, following a workshop and subsequent conversations with UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Innovate UK commercialisation leads.

The report

The UK Manufacturing Forum collected a wide variety of insights and ideas from communities across the UK, to identify the barriers, opportunities and consequences to strengthening the collaboration between Catapults and academia.

The collated information includes views from government (in particular, BEIS), funding bodies (including Innovate UK, UKRI and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, EPSRC), the HVM Catapult and other research and technology organisations (RTOs), and leading academics in engineering and manufacturing-related disciplines.


Five key recommendations

According to the report, the commercial impact of UK academic discovery could be greatly enhanced through a more coordinated use of existing capabilities – in research, translation and commercialisation. This can be achieved by more effectively incentivising stakeholders to work collaboratively across different stages of a technology life-cycle, from early-stage discovery to late-stage scale-up.

The report sets out five key recommendations to increase the coherence of the research and innovation ecosystem.

The five recommendations are:

  1. Simplify and standardise rules for all Innovate UK projects
  2. Provide funding for accelerating the translation of research in joint projects between universities and Catapults
  3. Invest in people to build “bridges” between Catapults and Universities
  4. Allow Research Council-funded academic projects to include Catapults and other RTOs as collaborators
  5. Create opportunities for larger-scale collaborative research and development (CR&D) projects, covering a broad range of technologies and without geographical limit

Whilst there are already signs of some changes in response to the recommendations, there is an ongoing imperative to do better and more, to truly seize the opportunities granted by the UK’s world-leading research.


About the UKMF

The UK Manufacturing Forum (UKMF) was created in 2018 by the HVM Catapult in partnership with the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM). The Forum is a thriving community of academics, researchers, engineers and industry representatives with a driving purpose to create a real-world impact through collaboration.

The HVM Catapult and IfM have continued with that ethos by organising and hosting UK Manufacturing Forum events.

Including people from the innovation community across the country, the UKMF mission is to identify practical actions which will help to maximise the impact of investment in the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem.

Read the Bridging the Academic-Industrial Gap report here.