Universities need to capitalise on their expertise to raise more money from business, a Treasury report says.
Universities should capitalise on research, says Lambert
They have to cast off antiquated management systems, according to a review led by Richard Lambert, a former editor of The Financial Times.
Oxford and Cambridge in particular should generate more money themselves from private sources than they get from public funds.
The report comes as the government faces a fierce battle to raise more funds for universities from increased tuition fees.
It says business must play its part too.
"Companies will need to learn how to exploit the innovative ideas developed across dozens of British university campuses," it says.
"The story of British business over the past 100 years is littered with tales of missed opportunities. "
Mr Lambert, who sits on the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, calls for further reform at Oxford and Cambridge "so
that the government and the public can trust both universities to manage the
increased public funding that they will certainly need if they are to retain
their current position - let alone to strengthen it".
"There is no doubt that there is a broad public interest in the success of
these two universities.
"But that is more likely to be served by change that is initiated and led
Mr Lambert's report makes 33 recommendations for improving links between
business and higher education aimed at government ministers, company
bosses and academics.
He said the government should spend £150m a year in England on
exploiting commercial uses of research.
And it should earmark between £100m and £200m for "business
relevant research" which should go to university departments which could show "strong support from business".
The Lambert Review was commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown.
"As Richard Lambert suggests, ambitious businesses need universities to meet many of
their future technology and skills needs, and regional development agencies
should help foster university business links," said Mr Brown.
"He also suggests a strong case for a share of university research to be
driven by the needs of business.
"In response a centrepiece of our next budget and spending review will be
government playing its part in helping universities and business face up to
these new challenges.
"Together we must enable our centres of excellence to succeed in the next
wave of science and be at the heart of Britain's future economic success."
Intellectual property rights
Universities UK, the group which represents university vice-chancellors, has welcomed the Lambert report.
Professor Patrick Dowling, Chair of Universities UK's Business and Industry Strategy Group and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: "This positive and constructive report acknowledges the work universities are already doing to support business and industry.
"We look forward to seeing the DTI's Innovation Review for further indications of how the government intends both to stimulate demand from business and support universities' considerable activities in this area."
The Confederation of British Industry has complained about a recommendation in the review that universities should normally own the intellectual property
rights produced in collaboration with industry.
CBI deputy director general John Cridland said: "Business will be
enthusiastic about this report, which will play an important role in improving
university-business collaborations and enhancing innovation and
"But we need to understand that business only gets involved in these projects
for commercial reasons.
"Difficulties over intellectual property rights have too often caused
companies to walk away from promising opportunities."