On Wednesday 20 January Energy Champions Dr Dan Credgington and Dr Mark Ainslie from Energy@Cambridge organised a networking event for PhD students and early career researchers, supported by ESRC, around the topic of ‘Good technology does not require public investment’ held at Emmanuel College.
The invited participants included PhD and early career researchers working in a number of different departments in Faculties of Social Sciences, Technology and Physical Sciences.
Professor Michael Pollitt, Judge Business School, and Dr Julian Peck, Cambridge Enterprise, both gave short talks and provided an overview of the issues from a policy and technology viewpoint to stimulate the discussion.
Professor Pollitt questioned what makes ‘good’ technology – Is it just faster, lighter or cheaper? He also examined in what ways technology benefited society, what value judgements are implied and the importance of public consultation and accountability of government funds.
Dr Peck outlined a case study of a spin out based on the research of Professor Mike Payne of the University’s Cavendish Laboratory which attracted significant private investment. The CASTEP software uses quantum mechanics to allow researchers to predict the properties of materials. The software recently passed $30 million in sales.
The talks were followed by a Q&A session where the following subjects were discussed:
How can we trust economic models? It is not about perfect theoretical solutions
How to measure the success of spin outs? Is it through metrics, number of patents, technology disclosures, third party income generated?
Role of kickstarter funding model between government and private investment and the influence of social media
How much does government value research? The correlation between government investment into R&D and GDP
The event finished with further networking over a drinks reception.