A springboard to global growth
Andrew Cahn, UK Trade & Investment

Innovation: the business of shaping our world
David Golding, Technology Strategy Board

Going global
Jonathan Kestenbaum, NESTA

Diversity is good for innovation
Annette Williams, UKRC for Women in SET

Promoting physics supporting physicists
Institute of Physics

The cost-saving CEO
Taylor Wessing

The BIC network
UK Trade & Investment

Innovation inspires R&D tax relief



Addressing cross sectoral issues
Integrated Products Manufacturing KTN

Research Councils

Meeting the global challenge
Research Councils

The UK?s National Science and Innovation Campuses
Science & Technology Facilities Council

Aerospace & Defence

Enabling technology through innovative approaches
Aerospace & Defence KTN

Defence technologies for civilian applications
Ploughshare Innovations


Securing the future
Intellect Association for Biometrics


Supporting life sciences in the capital
London First

Tackling the threat of electronic crime
Cyber Security KTN


From invention to innovation
Electronics KTN

Grid Computing Now! KTN


A global fusion
UK Atomic Energy Authority

Design for a one planet economy
Giraffe Innovation

Managing carbon in the corporate and public sectors
Greenstone Carbon Management

Towards an energy efficient future
British Electrotechnical and Allied

Manufacturers Association (BEAMA) Home help
Energy Institute


Connecting people and technology
Health Technologies KTN

A centre of excellence for innovative translational research
University of Birmingham

Feeling your way to design success
NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement

University-industry collaborations
Imperial College London

Lost in translation
Pearson Matthews Innovation Consultants

Location and Timing

Location and Timing KTN
Intelligent Transport Systems

Mapping the route to intelligent transport systems deployment
Innovits KTN

Drive down fleet costs and reduce carbon emissions?
Energy Saving Trust

DRIVENet and sustainable vehicle engineering
Oxford Brookes University


Breaking the mould
Manufacturing Technologies Association

University of Nottingham

An innovative history
Scott Bader

Innovation for tomorrow?s built environment
Modern Built Environment KTN


Innovations in materials deliver value for money
Materials KTN


Nanotechnology in the UK
Nano KTN

Linking technology push with market pull

Running the risks
European Nanotechnology Trade Alliance

Nanofabrication solutions
Kelvin Nanotechnology

Innovative science for global applications
Oxford Instruments

Leading positive change for global industry
The Centre for Process Innovation


Making light work for industry
Photonics KTN


Unlocking the potential of the UK?s sensing community
Sensors & Instruments KTN


Investing in the future
Invest Northern Ireland

Ulster innovation delivering business success
University of Ulster

Focus: Northern Ireland

Belfast ? a city of creativity and innovation
Belfast City Council

A natural centre for innovation
London Development Agency

England?s East Midlands ? an innovative region
East Midlands Development Agency

Making it in Leeds
The City of Leeds

Collaboration in wireless technologies
Wireless Centre of Industrial Collaboration

Industrial Collaboration at the University of Leeds
Engineering Design CIC

One North East

Focus: North West of England

Connectivity, Catchment, Cost
St. Helens

Focus: South West of England

Be part of the equation
West of England Partnership

All change for Hastings
Innovation Centre Hastings

ITI Scotland


Raising the standards
UK Science Park Association

Special focus: collaboration
Edinburgh Science Triangle

Innovation: the key to economic growth
County Durham Development Company

Solutions across boundaries
Norwich Research Park

Partnership provides innovation success
Wolverhampton Science Park


The outsourcing advantage
Business Services Association

Fast start UK
Tenon Outsourcing

Inward investment trends

Divine intervention
British Business Angels Association

Know your rights
Intellectual Property Office

A perfect patent
Beresford & Co

Putting IP at the centre of business strategy
Cambridge Intellectual Property


Science lessons
GovNet Communications

Useful addresses


Healthcare: Pearson matthews innovation consultants

Lost in translation

If innovation is the exploitation of new ideas, then in order to get innovation you need to start by accessing invention

Fortunately, the UK is a uniquely inventive nation. There is an incredible clustering of institutions overflowing with interesting technologies, whilst simultaneously a wealth of novel ideas emerging from individuals and design colleges. Accessing invention, however, gets you only to the starting gate of the innovation journey. Invention will remain just an invention unless it is given an application, an opportunity, a market or a need. But surely these are not lacking either?

Mind the gaps

So, we know there is no shortage of research and invention in academia and industry, and our healthcare system is brimming with people working at the point of delivery, ideally placed to spot needs. Moreover, we have people defining policy, and importantly, prolific funding for research. Why therefore, when seemingly all the right components are in place, is our record in the UK for successful transfer of invention into commercial innovation so poor?

What is lacking is the ability to bridge the gaps and ?translate? between these disparate groups of academia, industry and policy makers who essentially need to work together to create a culture of innovation. It is not simply about making connections but giving clear direction in the language they each speak. The role of the ?translator? requires the ability to truly grasp the technology?s benefits, understand the latter stages of the development process and to interface with industry, whilst having the experience of needs and markets, enabling a creative step and spotting potential matches.

To illustrate issues that thwart the invention to innovation passage, we were asked to look at a Department of Health funded project which, while showing great clinical potential, seemed to have stalled.

The call

The DH put out a call to fund research that sought ways to sterilise medical instruments contaminated by CJD. CJD has proven impossible to remove from instruments by current sterilisation methods, resulting in their removal for safe storage in perpetuity if used on CJD patients; £3,000 endoscopes are bagged and tagged for exclusive use on that one patient only. A UK university responded and subsequently invented and patented a technique which met the need.

The advantages

The technique ablates organic matter away whereas current methods leave it there and merely sterilise it. The new technique uses gas plasma sterilisation to remove prions to levels a thousand times lower than those achieved by existing methods.

What happened?

A convincing technology had been developed with much evidence to prove its effectiveness, including working prototypes and limited animal testing. However, it reached a point where it could go no further. Despite apparent success at having met need, approaches by the university technology transfer department to the major sterilisation market leaders generated little interest. While the DH saw the technology as meeting the need, it was not apparent how it would fit into current routines and systems. Consequently, we were asked to help establish why and what could be done.

The bigger picture

Through assessing the research outcomes and project status, we explored the opportunity and evaluated the progress made to date. A better understanding was gained of the role of the parties involved, including an OEM who was producing prototypes, plus a potential commercial partner. Deeper investigation explored the attempts made by the technology transfer department to commercialise the project. Our investigation sought to expose what may have gone wrong and what lessons could be learnt.

Illustrating its potential

A number of reasons could explain why the project stalled. The first could be attributed to a major player in the sterilisation market releasing a product with apparent similarities. While branded as a new ?plasma sterilisation technology?, plasma was only used once sterilisation was complete, in order to neutralise the toxicity of the residual hydrogen peroxide. This competing technology, while not widely accepted, managed to throw doubt on the originality of the university?s technology thus tainting it in the mind of potential licensees. Secondly, both academics and technology transfer alike failed to illustrate the technology?s simplicity and practical benefits, unsuccessfully illustrating to potential commercial partners how near to market this technology actually was.

Without a route to market, illustration of practical benefits and clear direction, instead of being a technology pulled through by need it reverted to a technology competing to find a market gap. What was missing from the project was showing how the technology could be made into a practical solution ? the translation.

The translator

The lessons that can be drawn from this project are not unique; they could apply to most, if not all, projects that move ideas to commercial outcomes. The role of the translator is vital to bridge the gaps helping to transform innovation in the UK.

For further information contact Mike Pearson:
Tel: +44 (0)20 8547 0470

Pearson Matthews