A team of engineers at Surrey University attracted £900,000 of funding from mobile phone companies last year and added a further £35,000 to the coffers from a Department of Trade and Industry prize awarded last week.
The 90-strong Centre for Communication Systems Research at the University of Surrey won the engineering section of the Government’s Partnership Prizes, having recorded the biggest annual increase in industrial partnership earnings.
The centre signed up £800,000 from eight industrial research contracts in the year to July 1997, which together with a further £100,000 of student sponsorships accounted for a 250% increase on the previous year.
Professor Barry Evans, CCSR director, said his team decided 10 years ago to focus on the mobile telecoms market because of the opportunities it held out for research partnerships.
‘We have become more entrepreneurial over the last few years, going out to make presentations to target companies in industry,’ he said. ‘The centre is now almost operating like an independent research organisation.’
The DTI awards are designed to promote links between industry and academia as part of the Government’s drive to boost innovation in British industry.
But the DTI’s own Links scheme, set up for this purpose, has been criticised for promoting projects that are too divorced from immediate commercial needs.