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      Public-Private Collaboration in Action

      Q&A with Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director, Clusters and Harwell Campus, Business Development, UKRI-STFC

      17 Feb 2022 Dr Barbara Ghinelli, Director, Clusters and Harwell Campus

      1. As a world-leading science and innovation campus, Harwell is home to over 240 pioneering public and private sector organisations. What is Harwell’s makeup, and what is its mission?

      The Harwell Campus is built around the UK’s Rutherford Appleton National Laboratory, a primary centre for R&D and the site of large national facilities such as the Diamond Light Source synchrotron and others that have application across a broad range of scientific disciplines. A primary attraction of the Campus is that it provides industry with access to this R&D base, stimulating innovation and accelerating its commercialisation. We do this through thematic, high tech clusters that encourage partnerships which promote collaboration, attract international investment and top-tier talent, advance the frontiers of world-changing science, and realise the incumbent societal and economic benefits. 

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      2. Why is public-private sector collaboration important to R&D, when we’re seeing record levels of venture capital investment into the Arc’s most promising companies?

      It is important to remember that Government has invested over £3bn in world-leading national science facilities at Harwell so far this century. This impressive accumulation of knowledge-intensive funding has been vital to the formation of several world-class institutions within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, not least the new Rosalind Franklin Institute for medical research, and has harnessed the economies of scale and long-term capital necessary for new innovation to thrive. Public investment has contributed to the generation of a huge and evolving knowledge base on the Campus. 

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      3. How important is plurality of size and approach to creativity, and to diversity of thought within Harwell Campus?

      Innovation is not always easy to drive within large organizations that have established working models. That is why larger companies tend to seek creative ideas that originate within start-ups and small companies that have fresh ideas and can be more agile. When you pull together the two at a commercial level, that is where the opportunities exist; and Harwell and its clusters is where this interface can and does happen.

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      4. What are the benefits of being located within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc?

      Harwell is in many ways a microcosm of what the Oxford-Cambridge Arc has the potential to achieve. The Arc benefits from a world-renowned knowledge base, some of the best facilities and lots of successful businesses as a real launchpad for growth. Knowledge catalysts like Harwell and Granta Park have a major role to play, building on the vast pool of knowledge and developing skills cultivated within the region’s universities and beyond.

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