ICMIT2016 Keynote Presentation


The Evolution of an Innovation Ecosystem: Lessons from Cambridge, UK”
Wed - 21 Sep | 09:00 - 09:45 | Salon A

Reader in Technology and Innovation Management
Institute for Manufacturing
University of Cambridge, United Kingdom


This paper analyses the evolution of strategies and structures to support innovation and entrepreneurship within the University of Cambridge in the period 1995-2015. Our analysis is structured at three levels: national policies; the strategic responses of the University of Cambridge to national policies; and university-level implementation activities. All of these are positioned within the evolving context of the Cambridge high technology business cluster.

This paper draws upon a wide range of secondary data on UK science, technology and innovation policies accessed from public databases, interviews with staff at the University of Cambridge involved in the setup and management of innovation and entrepreneurship support programmes, and data archived through the direct involvement of the authors in a range of national and local innovation support activities throughout the period of this analysis.

The analysis is framed by the literature on university technology transfer, national innovation systems, regional economic clusters, and innovation and entrepreneurship policy.

There are three key findings from this analysis. Firstly, the national policies to support university-based innovation and entrepreneurship in the UK can be seen to have followed three distinct phases, and these national-level phases were mirrored in the strategic and operational responses of the University of Cambridge. Secondly, the developments within the University benefited from the strong engagement of the local business community, and the regional cluster itself benefited from the development of the University’s activities. Thirdly, boundaries between activities targeted at innovation (‘knowledge to dollars’) and those focused on research (‘dollars to knowledge’) have become much more blurred and can be viewed as a complex ecosystem rather than a simple linear process from pure research to applied research to market application.

From this analysis (and with full recognition of the contextual dependent nature of our results), guidance for university administrators and innovation/entrepreneurship policymakers is suggested.

About the Speaker

Tim Minshall is a Reader in Technology and Innovation Management at the University of Cambridge Department of Engineering. His teaching and research is focused on developing understanding of how emerging technologies are used to deliver new products and services. His specific research interests are open innovation, advanced production technologies, and engineering education.

He is a Non-Executive Director of St John's Innovation Centre Ltd (Cambridge), a Visiting Professor at Doshisha University (Kyoto), and a member of the UK Institution for Engineering and Technology (IET) Innovation and Emerging Technologies Policy Panel. He is a member of steering committees for ideaSpace Enterprise Accelerator, Cambridge University Entrepreneurs, Cambridge i-Teams, VentureFest East, and the UK National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing. In 2012 he was a recipient of a University of Cambridge Pilkington Prize for Teaching Excellence and a Royal Academy of Engineering/ExxonMobil Excellence in Teaching Award. He is actively involved in a range of outreach activities to raise awareness of engineering among primary and secondary schoolchildren (www.whatengineersdo.info). He has B.Eng. from Aston University (UK) and a PhD from Cambridge University Engineering Department (UK).