Putting scientific knowledge to use

28 November 2019

Chris Warkup, Visiting Professor at Innogen, chaired a session at the Royal Society conference in London on ‘Transforming UK translation’.

The one day event celebrated best practice in translational science. Ensuring an uninterrupted flow between novel ideas, knowledge, discoveries and practical solutions will help support a translation system that generates the best possible impact and benefits for society. Through a mixture of talks, round table discussions and workshops, attendees discussed current challenges surrounding the translation of research and ways to overcome them. 

In the session chaired by Chris Warkup entitled: Partnerships: creating value for both sides, Dr Malcolm Skingle CBE, Director at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) highlighted some of the challenges encountered at the industry-academic interface and used the experience of GSK to demonstrate working in partnership with industry can improve researchers publication citations as well as achieving faster impact from research. This talk was followed by a panel discussion on the session's theme; with Anne Muir, Head of Business Engagement & Commercialisation at the University of Dundee; Dr Darren Budd, Commercial Director at BASF Plc; Dr Michael Murray, Principal, Murray International Partners; and Dr Andrea Kells, Director, Arm Ltd.

The Panel members were unanimous in praising academic institutions and businesses that focus on building long-term relationships, rather than looking at each contract, licence or collaboration as a transaction. In some cases, it might be necessary to ‘start small’ with collaborations that build trust, but the Panel were of the view this was worth the effort.

Overall, the day celebrated the real progress that the UK is making in improving translation processes. It also highlighted a number or areas where improvements could be made.

As Chris put it, “given the excellent quality of UK science we should see greater economic and societal impacts than we do; both locally and nationally. There is a tendency to focus on what are the right mechanisms and metrics for translation, and perhaps not enough focus on making sure our HEI’s have the right mindset when it comes to translation into industrial practice”.

Chris Warkup has also accepted the invitation to become a member of the Royal Society’s ’Science, Industry and Translation’ Committee in 2020. This committee oversees the delivery of the Society’s Science and Industry programme and makes recommendations to Council on the Society’s strategy in relation to science, industry and translation.

I was delighted to be able to accept the invitation to work more closely with the Royal Society’s SIT Committee and their Industry Engagement Team. I hope my wide experience at the interfaces of science, industry, government funders and private investors will prove useful to the Committee and will complement my work as part of the Innogen team — supporting the delivery of innovation that is profitable, safe and societally useful.”