Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Work the Room? That's Not My Job - I'm a Researcher, Not a Seller

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Work the Room? That's Not My Job - I'm a Researcher, Not a Seller

Article excerpt

Two-fifths of academics surveyed resent pressure to commercialise their work. David Matthews reports.

A significant number of academics feel it is not part of their job to help businesses bring their research to market, according to an investigation into attitudes to knowledge transfer.

Such activity is high on the political agenda, with David Willetts, the universities and science minister, challenging institutions to increase their income from knowledge transfer by 10 per cent over the next three years.

However, scholars often think they do not have the skills to network with the business leaders who could turn their research into a new product or service, according to a PhD thesis written by Kristel Miller, a teaching fellow in management at the University of Abertay Dundee.

About 40 per cent of the researchers questioned who were working with the university to commercialise their work said they felt they had been "forced" to do so, Ms Miller told Times Higher Education.

"They didn't really feel like it was part of their job - their job was teaching and research," she said, quoting one interviewee who said they "didn't know how to sell".

Part of the problem was that many of those interviewed did not feel they had the time or the skills to speak to these "industry players", said Ms Miller.

She found that older academics in particular were likely to have the view that "the networking aspect wasn't their job".

This was partly because older academics had more commitments, such as families, and also because younger researchers had entered academia at a time when there was greater expectation that they would be involved with industry, Ms Miller suggested. …

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