In a seminar organized by the Faculty of Science (FOS) on 10th August, newly appointed visiting professor, Prof Eran Edirisinghe discussed pertinent aspects related to Enterprise in Research – how research can bridge the gap between academia and the industrial sector through commercialization.
Professor Edirisinghe defined enterprise as a mechanism through which academics engage with business, the public and voluntary organizations thereby meeting the increasing demand of knowledge transfer between the three knowledge stakeholders. He shared that the quality of academic research is increasingly based on its social, cultural and economic impacts since governments and research funders worldwide look for relevance of the research to current issues.
Prof Edirisinghe cautioned against falling into the “valley of death”, where brilliant and novel research ideas were not commercialized largely because institutions have not accorded due priority to enterprise as a feasible knowledge bridging mechanism between research and commercial activities. This happens, he said, due to a mismatch of objectives between academicians and industry players.
“Academics want to get published where as companies want to look at research outcomes in form of end-user profitable products. This is where enterprise comes in and is able to allow a trade-off between the two”, he explained.
Drawing his discussion into Brunei Darussalam, Prof Edirisinghe said that academic institutions should not be discouraged by the small market for their research ideas. “In some cases you will find that there is no place for a brilliant research idea in the commercial market locally. In such cases, UBD could establish contacts and partner with multinational companies to try and get their work commercialized. Even more rewarding with this approach, is that these multinational companies tend to end up establishing branches in the partner institutions’ countries”, he added.
Obstacles faced in enterprise and entrepreneurship efforts are not unique to a single institution, he said. “It is almost the same obstacle everywhere. Academics either have misconceptions about the idea, or they lack enough understanding of the concept as a whole, or they find no reward in it and thus do not pursue it, and in most cases the new academics find it hard to balance between teaching, research and entrepreneurship”, he explained.
Prof Edirisinghe lauded UBD’s initiative to establish departments specifically to nurture and nourish novel and industry potential ideas from students and staff. On getting the students involved in enterprise, he shared the common practice in UK in which students are involved in the knowledge transfer mechanisms either by having companies sponsor them to get through specific academic programs aimed at addressing a given need in the market or by supporting them grow the ideas that they generate themselves.
Professor Eran Edirisinghe is a Professor of Digital Imaging and the Director of Research in the Department of Computer Science at Loughborough University, UK. His research team efforts have recently been honored by two prestigious awards, Loughborough University Enterprise Award for Knowledge Transfer, 2013 and 2014. In his role as visiting professor in UBD, Professor Edirisinghe is involved in several other efforts such as in establishing connections between researchers and research teams at Loughborough and UBD, as well as helping with the establishment of a new stream in the Computer Science major offered by FOS.
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