Useful day recently at the “What Industry Wants from Academia” conference – see ( for the details.


A couple of interesting messages emerged from the speakers and from conversation:

  • For most big companies, university collaboration is now a core element of their R&D portfolio, enabling the company to focus its efforts on product development and activities that are closer to market.  However, it’s not clear that companies are using the full range of engagement routes in ways that would best give them what they need.
  • Most companies are forming strategic relationships with a preferred few universities – but many are going further and asking the universities to become competent in networking with the best academic groups in the world.  Such competence within the universities is emerging only slowly.
  • The companies expect the universities to manage the creation of multi-disciplinary teams of researchers – and this is a skill yet to be fully developed within academia.
  • Many companies, especially the biggest, are exploring different ways to focus their diverse set of candidate interests into key questions with which they can approach universities.  Formulating such questions is not easy – finding the right mix of specificity to enable academics to engage, coupled with generality so academics can contribute and innovate beyond the question.
  • Although some companies are creating frameworks that link strategy through to their required capabilities and hence to their university collaboration agenda, this is the exception rather than the rule.


And all this throws into sharp relief the interesting issue of ‘what academia needs from industry in order to be able to help’.


Binary rules OK

May 21, 2013

Yesterday, standing close the centre of one of the greatest concentrations of computing power and bandwidth in the UK I took the following photo.


Yes – they still use Morse code to communicate between offices in the department – each person with their own ‘call-sign’ given on a poster above the key.  I wasn’t able to find out to what extent this is still used – but it’s all wired up and operational.  Wonderful how some technologies cling on, and in the most unexpected places!

“If you’re not paying for services, you’re the product, not the client.”


(From to Stéphane Grumbach, “The stakes of Big Data in the IT industry: China as the next global challenger?”)