For many years, the “Cambridge Phenomenon” has been associated in most peoples’ minds with academic spin-off firms, established to develop new products based on intellectual property created within their university laboratories, and with Silicon Valley style venture capital providing the finance. But a two year research study at Cambridge University has found that the key to the success of hi-tech firms generating the most employment lies in developing solutions to customer problems. [...]
The report found little enthusiasm amongst successful, fast growing high-tech firms for the kinds of multi-partner research grants involving university-industry collaboration that are favoured by UK policy makers and, in contrast to the US, a dearth of R&D contracts with public sector customers. [...]
Instead the report proposes a series of new policies to encourage more R&D contracts between small companies and lead customers, including a new grants scheme and increased use of procurement to meet Government innovation needs.