Innovation and enterprise blog

17 July 2013

The role of UK University Business Schools in driving innovation

I’m Sally Halper, Social Sciences Content Development Manager, and my role includes developing the British Library’s content about business and management theory. I’m interested in how management research can be used to make UK business more effective.

Last week I attended an event looking at how Universities can help drive innovation, which brought together Government and representatives from some of the leading UK Business Schools.

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, is keen to see Universities providing more support for small businesses – he particularly wants to see Business Schools sharing their expertise with local businesses, and for more research projects to have a concrete impact on the success of SMEs in the UK.

To facilitate this, he commissioned a report into what UK Business Schools are currently doing: read the report here.

It includes lots of examples of good practice from around the UK and makes some practical recommendations - including that Business Schools need to specialise more on particular regions or industries, and that management academics need to communicate their findings in ways that business people can easily read and understand - something that we have had an interest in for a long time.

A conference to discuss the recommendations and what practical steps can be taken to implement them included an hour with David Willetts which emphasized the Government’s view that Business Schools must engage more with small businesses as drivers of growth. This could include everything from providing routes into other University departments, commercialising University-led innovations and co-creating research, to Universities acting as delivery partners in providing business advice.

He welcomed the Management Articles initiative which is run by the Chartered Management Institute in association with the British Library, as one way of getting research findings in front of managers free of charge, and in particular the way it enables managers to comment on and rate articles in terms of how practical they are. See the Management Articles website, or download the articles rated most highly by managers.

Overall, there was a lot of consensus between the academics and the Minister about the need for more join-up between Business Schools and small business, and lots of inspiring examples of success. But do people see Universities, and particularly Business Schools, as a source of business advice? Or is there still some way to go?

One to watch for our national network of Business & IP Centres! 

Sally Halper on behalf of Business & IP Centre


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