New technologies, changing markets, emerging nations, population, employment, disposal of waste, diminishing known resources, wars and rumours of war have for time immemorial created great social and economic pressures for the industrial world Today is no exception as we experience a rapid rate of change both nationally and internationally The need and ability to adapt to technical, economic and political change have never been more prevalent both in our nation and in our volatile industry

With this background the role of research and development has received a new focus The rate of gaining new knowledge to bring to bear on increasingly complex problems, within stringent financial constraints, has brought a new pattern of research programme These emerging directed programmes cross the university/industry/government interfaces and attempt to manage and/or steer the available resources in a collaborative rather than competitive manner Many benefits can accrue from this collaborative spirit These may include a better mutual understanding of research motivation, access to valuable data or equipment and an easier transfer of new knowledge into development and production Some pitfalls can also present themselves Overmanagement may stifle innovation, arguments over joint ownership of intellectual property may sour relationships, and time-scales for research may be too short

Nevertheless, these parameters define the way in which R and D programmes are being structured to meet the goals of cost-effective research

The whole topic of research funding and exploitation of results is immense This brief paper can only touch on some aspects of university/industry/governmental interfaces in an attempt to define models for joint R and D projects The question ‘Do they work?’ can only be answered as existing projects begin to deliver results and the participants analyse their performance. The question of ‘how we make them work’ must, however, be more important at this point in time

In 1981 the UK university sector was drastically cut back and has been steadily eroded each year since that time Engineering and Science faculties, although receiving some preferential treatment, have not escaped the intense pressures experienced over the last eight years The North Sea oil and gas industry has, however, experienced a tremendous growth and success over this time, and only in the last year or so have we seen the results throughout the industry of a turn down in oil price The manufacturing and information technology industries have not faired well over this time against other European, North American and Japanese competition Many of these industries have suffered from short-term investment policy together with skill shortage in many areas of new technology

The enforced impoverishment of our education system in concert with government department initiatives to encourage industry, the eventual users, to invest in university research has induced change. This has drawn the technologically based university disciplines closer to those industries seeking innovative development of their products or processes

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