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      Four part Q&A with Richard Turnill, Senior Bursar, Trinity College Cambridge

      17 Feb 2022 Richard Turnill, Senior Bursar, Trinity College Cambridge

      1. Trinity College founded the first science park in Europe, Cambridge Science Park, providing land and funding for hi-tech enterprises in the region. 50 years on, over 100 world-changing companies occupy the Park, pioneering R&D in everything from disease prevention and robotics to renewable energy generation.

      How important is it for universities and colleges like Trinity to be involved in incubating and supporting innovation across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc?

      At the heart of all university and academic institutions is a desire to push forward original thought. For Trinity specifically, our mission is education and research for the public good. Advancing R&D and driving innovation will always be part of this; investment in scientific and technological progress helps us to maximise returns that further support Trinity’s activities, while at the same time encouraging future innovation that is emerging here and elsewhere.

      The best example of how Trinity supports innovation is Cambridge Science Park as you’ve rightly pointed out. My predecessor Sir John Bradfield had enormous foresight to create the first science park in Europe; it’s remarkable to think the land – then of course only fields – was donated to the College by its founder Henry VIII in the sixteenth century.

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      There is a keen interest in making a real-world difference by supporting innovation that has positive impacts, yes in Cambridge and the East of England but also around the world.

      2. What about innovation in the College itself? How does the environment created by Trinity support emerging start-ups and spinouts?

      Across the College there are Fellows involved in successful real-world applications of their research, notably the former Master, Sir Gregory Winter, who developed of a new category of drug that revolutionized the pharmaceutical sector and changed many people’s lives worldwide. This culture of innovation and entrepreneurship helps show students and researchers that support can be provided as they look to develop their ideas and take them outside the University into the wider world.

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      3. How does Trinity benefit from being in close proximity to public and private enterprise from a research and collaboration perspective?

      The key here is that we need to recognise a symbiotic relationship between the University and the innovation undertaken by public and private enterprise. Spinouts from Trinity and other Colleges in Cambridge come onto the Science Park we’ve developed, like Astex Pharmaceuticals developing drugs to combat diseases of the central nervous system and Cambridge Touch Technologies making super accurate sensors for electronic devices; their biggest talent pool is the University itself.

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      4. How can we continue to generate global interest in R&D activities within the region?

      There are three ways to maximise global interest in R&D activities in Cambridge and the region more broadly.

      First, we need to listen to students and businesses present in the region to understand what support they need to grow and scale. Trinity has done this well and we need to continue actively ensuring their needs are heard.

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      If the Oxford-Cambridge Arc is going to be a primary European hub for innovation, we need to amplify this message.


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