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We also want our universities to look again at how they work with business across their teaching and research activities, to promote better teaching, employer sponsorship, innovation and enterprise. We have asked Professor Sir Tim Wilson, former vice-chancellor of the University of Hertfordshire, to undertake a review into how we make the UK the best place in the world for university-industry collaboration.”

White Paper: Putting Students at the heart of higher education. paragraph 13, June 2011

Universities and their activities are integral parts of economic and business development; they are key players in the many supply chains that feed diverse aspects of business activities. Large companies interface with many different universities; depending upon their capabilities and expertise; equally many SMEs interact with their local university as they have the capacity and capability to meet their needs. Other SMEs, especially in leading edge technologies, seek out the leading researchers wherever they may be located.

There is no simple model of interaction; the diverse business needs and diversity of supply from universities leads to complexity in relationships. The key to improving effectiveness of the interface does not lie in regulation or in conformity; it lies in diversity, information sharing, mutual recognition and voluntary partnership.