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Celebrating fifty years of science and innovation policy and management studies

By Professor Fiona Devine, Head, Alliance Manchester Business School

On Friday (3 November 2017) I was delighted to join colleagues, alumni and partners to celebrate 10 years of the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIOIR) and over 50 years of excellence in science and innovation policy and management studies at The University of Manchester.

Over the last 50 years the University has helped to firmly establish the field of science technology and innovation studies across the UK and Europe. Our history in the field stretches back to Professor Fred Jevons, who established the Liberal Studies in Science programme in 1966. Later centres and groups included Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology (PREST), The Centre for Research on Organisations, Management and Technical Change (CROMTEC), The Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition (CRIC), and of course MIOIR launched ten years ago.

I am very proud, that not only did we play big part in establishing science and innovation policy and management studies as an academic discipline, but that we have been actively engaging with policymakers and businesses globally to make a real impact over those 50 years.

I am also extremely proud of the people from these centres and groups, and indeed current MIOIR members, who make our research and teaching in the field truly stand out. MIOIR has a long history of employing some of the world’s leading academics and highly-cited scholars, which was clear just by looking around the room on Friday.

The Institute’s Professor Luke Georghiou has recently been appointed Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester. Luke pointed out to me recently that he is in good company.

In fact if we look back, we can count as MIOIR alumni three vice-chancellors at Universities right across the world, including Professors Fred Jevons, Jarlath Ronayne and Roger Williams.

We also have three Manchester pro-Vice Chancellors, including Professor Phil Gummett, Professor Mike Gibbons and of course, Professor Luke Georghiou. Not to mention, Professor Rod Coombs, former Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Rod Coombs and prior to that Vice-President for Innovation and Economic Development.

We can also count several heads of business and management schools, including two Heads of the Manchester School of Management, Dale Littler, Professor of Marketing, and of course the late Ken Green, Professor of Environmental Innovation Management.

Today, MIOIR plays a key role within Alliance Manchester Business School. I am proud that its many achievements ensure both the School and University remain at the forefront of innovation research globally.

I was delighted that earlier this year Professor Jakob Edler agreed to continue as Director of the Institute for a further two years. Since he took up the role in 2011 the Institute as gone from strength-to-strength. Jakob is at the helm of a brilliant Institute, undertaking some really exciting work.

You may have seen just last week that Policy@Manchester’s report on the industrial strategy was launched at the Resolution Foundation Offices in London where Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy gave a keynote speech. I was delighted to see that many MIOIR colleagues contributed to this important piece of work to impact policy at the highest level.

There is lots of exciting research being undertaken across the Institute. MIOIR members are involved in the recently announced Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s Prosperity Partnership, a multimillion pound collaborative research project, led by The University of Manchester and Unilever, which will pioneer the application of digital manufacturing techniques in formulated products.

Other current research ranges from Norwegian-funded projects looking at the impact and quality of research, to major programmes on the ethical and regulatory aspects faced by synthetic biology.

There also projects funded by the Lord Alliance strategic investment fund here at the business school looking at sustainable energy consumption, the Northern Powerhouse, the behavioural foundations of strategy, and the gaming of metrics.

The Institute has also recently undertaken a review of the Small Business Research Initiative here in the UK, and reviews of SME performance in the EU. A recent Policy Forum published in the Science journal and led by Professor Frank Geels, looking at the need to accelerate transitions for sustainability and climate change, continues to be wide-reaching and hard hitting.

The Institute has forged strong links regionally which can be seen in the Manchester Innovation Forum, a partnership between MIOIR and the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. MIOIR’s strong international links were also showcased by its strong presence at last year’s EuroScience Open Forum here in Manchester. The forum brought together over 4,500 leading thinkers, innovators, policy makers, journalists and educators from more than 90 countries, to discuss current and future breakthroughs in contemporary science.

Recently, I was pleased to work closely with Professor Georghiou who led on our UK Research Partnership Investment Fund bid, which led to £9.7 million funding towards the redevelopment of Alliance MBS West, which is set to reopen next year.

MIOIR is increasing links to other areas of the University to undertake truly multi-disciplinary research and in turn inspiring the teaching curriculum and supporting the next generation of academics and professionals in the areas of management, economics and policy of innovation and science. Its PhD Programme in Science, Technology and Innovation Policy offers an unrivalled environment in which to conduct doctoral research in the areas of science and technology policy, innovation studies, technology and innovation management, and sustainability and transition studies with world leading supervisors. The Institute’s short-courses on foresight and horizon scanning and science technology and innovation policy also continue to go from strength-to-strength, attracting a host of senior professionals and policy makers each year.

Thinking about the future, it is clear to see that innovation and science underpin both growth and development strategies across the world. I know that colleagues in MIOIR are not just contributing to these debates but having an impact on increasing the understanding of the dynamics of innovation, and supporting a better understanding of the role innovation plays in tackling global challenges.

I look forward to the next decade of delivering world-class research and teaching across science, technology and innovation within the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research.

Read more about MIOIR’s anniversary celebration here.