Getting more out of security R&D – academics don’t just produce paper

One of the big challenges in the UK’s security sector is how to make more effective use of the limited R&D funding available for national security.  There is poor pull-through, exploitation and commercialisation of research generally, but particularly of research undertaken in academia.

This is partly because of a lack of collaboration between academics and industry.  There is fault on both sides.

Many companies think that academics just produce reams and reams of paper.  In fact, there is much academic research which has commercial promise.

Similarly, some academics might not think it necessary to commercialise and scale up their Intellectual Property.  Even those that do may think they can “go it alone” by developing their own commercial spin-offs.  Spin-offs are valuable and show commercial acumen.  But forming a spin-off does not remove the need to partner.  Industry will often have a better insight than academics into the actual operational environment in which capabilities need to be deployed (along with real-life testing environments).  Individual components also need to be integrated into an overall system to be effective, and industry has the experience and skills in systems integration.

To start overcoming these challenges, ADS has teamed up with the Research Councils UK Global Uncertainties Programme to improve the visibility of academic research which has commercial promise, identify academics who are seeking industry partners to progress their Intellectual Property, and encourage partnerships to form.

On 18 February, ADS and the Global Uncertainties Programme hosted an “academic market place” where nine academics presented to Primes, SMEs and end-users in a range of areas, including:

  • Queen’s University Belfast: Cyber Security – Physical Unclonable Functions (PUFs) and Novel Biometrics
  • University of Cambridge: Counter Radicalisation through Integrative Complexity
  • University of Liverpool & STFC: Imaging and detection of radioactive material using portable gamma ray imaging spectrometer
  • Manchester Metropolitan University: Concealed weapons detection by microwave and millimetre-wave radar
  • University of Nottingham: Modelling and Analysing the Cargo Screening Process
  • Queen Mary University: Video Analytics for behavioural analysis, situational awareness, detection & recognition
  • University College London: Coded X-Ray Phase Contrast Imaging (XPCi) for security scanning – detection of small wires and detection of explosives
  • University of Abertay Dundee: Integrating Cyber Security into System Design

We hope this will be the beginning of many effective partnerships between industry and academia.