In this second contribution to debate on this day Lord Bilimoria spoke twice. In his first speech he stresses the need for autonomy among Higher Education Institutions and of Innovate UK and how it’s work should not be stifled or interfered with. He concludes by urging the Government to listen to the amendment. In his second speech Lord Bilimoria mentions that when asked by a group of education leaders from India what his concerns over Brexit were with regard to the education sector he states that his biggest concerns research. He states the key to research is collaboration which is already suffering between UK and EU institutions. He argues that collaboration must be encouraged with the European Union and thus he supports the amendment.

Higher Education and Research Bill

30 January 2017

Moved by Baroness Brown:

Debating amendment

482C: Schedule 9, page 105, line 30, at end insert—

“(d) form, participate in forming or invest in a commercial arrangement including a company, partnership or other similar form of organisation for the purposes of supporting economic growth through commercialising research or promoting university-business collaboration (up to a financial limit determined periodically by the Secretary of State).”

Lord Bilimoria: First Contribution

My Lords, last year I shared a platform with the chief executive of Innovate UK at the International Festival for Business in Liverpool. We have heard from my noble friend Lord Mair about the great work it is doing and how important it is for our economy to encourage innovation and the translation of research from universities to business. Is it not ironic that here we have this Bill about which our greatest worry is its threat to autonomy—the autonomy of our universities, of our research institutions and, now, of Innovate UK? We cannot in any way stifle Innovate UK’s work or its ability to partner with or have joint ventures with organisations or to be innovative in itself. We cannot spoil Innovate UK being innovative. I urge the Government to listen to the amendment in the name of my noble friends Lady Brown, Lord Mair and Lord Broers and enable Innovate UK to be innovative itself.

Lord Bilimoria: Second Contribution

My Lords, today I hosted a group of education leaders from India and in our discussion, they asked: “What are your worries about Brexit when it comes to the UK education sector?”. In listing my worries, a list which is too long to talk about now, I stated that one of my biggest concerned research. It is all very well for the Government to say, “We’ll keep giving you the funding for research that we get from the European Union, even if we leave”, but it is much more important than that. That is why I support Amendment 488 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Hannay.

The key to research is collaboration. Already, we are seeing EU-funded research universities in Europe not partnering with UK universities because they are worried that we will be leaving the European Union. If I may illustrate the power of collaborative research, while I was in India in November, at the same time as the Prime Minister and the Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, the University of Birmingham held a workshop with the Panjab University. There we showed the power of collaborative research: when the University of Birmingham conducts research, our field-weighted citation impact is 1.87. The Panjab University figure is 1.37. Yet when we carry out collaborative research, the impact is 5.64, or three times the Birmingham figure. When we do research with Harvard University—I am an alumnus of the Harvard Business School—while Birmingham’s impact is 1.87 and Harvard’s is 2.4, our combined impact is 5.69. This is serious. We must encourage collaborative research with the European Union and this amendment should be in the Bill.

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