According to a study carried out by London-based Times Higher Education magazine, universities in Ireland and the UK are least valuable to big businesses. The study examined how the world’s top universities compete for research funding and showed that Irish academics attracted the smallest amounts of money from companies for carrying out research, compared with 30 other countries.
The results showed that university based researchers in Korea, the top ranked country, attracted an average of €77,700 each from private sector investors, while researchers here received an average of €6,600 each in funding. The top five countries were Korea, Singapore, the Netherlands, South Africa and Belgium. While the UK, Austria, Norway, Portugal and Ireland made up the bottom five.
Editor of Times Higher Education magazine, Phil Baty, said that Irish universities are being overlooked by investors when trying to secure funding from businesses. The magazine also said that universities in the UK and Ireland need to understand that in a time where companies survive through innovation, ideas can no longer be kept within the walls of academia. It said that the future was less about teaching and research and more about knowledge transfer.
The study measured the research income that hundreds of world-class institutions around the world are receiving from industry; applying a simple method for calculating the apparent success of a country without attempting to dissect the research categories. It is for this reason that the results are quite limited and have been very different to the magazine’s recent list of the world’s best universities, for example; India was ranked the fifth most valuable country for attracting research funding in this survey but its three universities didn’t even make the top 200 in the overall world university rankings.
Success in the survey was achieved by countries having links between researchers and large manufacturing bases like automobile manufacturers. Mr. Baty said, “These universities were set up to respond to the industry’s needs.” He also added that these successful countries are highly focused on forging these links. Due to this, countries such as China and India were found in the top ten while, surprisingly, countries like the US and Japan came 14th and 16th respectively. Success also relied on having good research activity in a ‘near-to-market’ research sector such as healthcare and IT.
The Government has placed a huge emphasis on forging links between academic researchers and companies. All of the new research centres being announced this year by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, must have major involvement by companies who act as research partners. Mr. Baty said that universities in Ireland will need to establish how they can help local businesses, describing the survey’s successful universities as, “…getting much more professional, much more focused and are going into businesses, making sure they get a lot of money.”