Commercialisation: Bridging the University-Industry Gap

This project is part of a broader, 12-month programme of work at the University of Birmingham, led by the Business Engagement Team. The overall objective is to better understand the role social sciences can play in bridging the divide between technology and research developed in universities, and market opportunities where value will be added. This is clearly a renewed priority in the context of regional variations in economic performance and the national Industrial Strategy looking to better-leverage STEM assets and capabilities in universities for economic growth. 

The project addresses the long-term, systemic problem of the university-industry gap through engaged academic research that identifies and develops frameworks to support and improve the commercialisation process in particular sectors. The study will focus on a selected set of case studies in different technology and industry sectors developed through interviews with scientists and engineers and with relevant industry partners. A broader aim is to connect micro-level interventions, investments and the introduction of new-to-market innovations and macro-level economic growth patterns at the regional level.


This is a pilot study to test and develop a number of frameworks, tools and indicators for mapping likelihoods, timescales and the wider potential economic impacts of new technologies. 

The project team will develop a series of case studies through interviews and secondary data analysis capturing: (1) the perceived, latent commercial potential of new technologies, according to university-based academics and, (2) market-based assessments from businesses that represent potential adopters, users or co-developers. The case studies will test the perceived commercial value of new technologies and map possible commercialisation pathways. 

The first phase of the project involves selecting specific technologies currently in development, in four University-based innovation clusters. Energy Capital / the Tyseley Energy Park, Birmingham Lifesciences Park (data analytics for diagnostics), Quantum Technology (sensors) and the Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education (BCCRE; digital systems) are the most likely candidates.

The second phase will develop case studies enabling the mapping of commercialisation pathways for a selected technology from each cluster to gain insights into the potential future economic impacts following adoption and diffusion. Cross-comparisons will reveal relative differences in the kinds of impacts and the timescales, sectors or regions across which these might occur. We are particularly interested in relating these to the targets embedded into the regional Strategic Economic Plans (SEPs) and the Industrial Strategy, including increased productivity, jobs, and/or well-being. The project will aim to provide new tools to support collaborative efforts to improve commercialisation processes and policymakers looking to differentiate between a range of market interventions and investments to improve regional economic growth.

Research team

Operational contact details

  • Andy Newnham, Strategic Business Engagement Partner
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Funder/client: University of Birmingham - ESRC Business Boost Fund 
Timescale: June 2018 to June 2019


Chloe BillingProject lead: Chloe Billing
Tel: 0121 415 9884