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27 July, 2006 - 16:50 By Staff Reporter

Scientists shy away from being entrepreneurs according to Norwich Research Park study

A new agency set up to increase the number of businesses created from the world-class science conducted at Norwich Research Park looks to have its work cut out for it, according to a new study.The study seems to show an alarming lack of entrepreneurial culture among it scientists.

The work investigated research scientists' attitudes to commercial exploitation of science and their opinions on setting up individual or collaborative science-based businesses.

The findings reveal that:

· 60 per cent of respondents felt access to finance was the major barrier preventing them starting up a businesses

· 85 per cent of respondents said they felt they lacked the skills to set up a commercial enterprise and had never received appropriate business training

· A large number of respondents said they didn't want to start their

own business and made reference to the different motivations of

scientists from business people, focusing on discovery rather than

financial gain

Over recent years the UK has acknowledged the importance of building a knowledge based economy to ensure the country retains the skills and knowledge of its workers.

Science parks have been identified as prime locations on which to build such businesses, with focus turning to ensuring businesses keep production facilities in the UK and also encouraging small business generation.

Dr Robin Daniels, chief executive of Norwich Research Park Enterprise Ltd, a newly established initiative tasked to push exploitation of the NRP's resources, said: "Science parks in the UK are integral to developing commercial exploitation of scientific research and stimulating the growth of high-tech entrepreneurial start-ups. Our aim at the NRP is to promote current and future research and business opportunities, as well as encourage inward investment, business development and research collaborations.

"The research findings are of extreme interest and importance to us. We want to ensure that initiatives are developed which help new and existing firms begin and develop their businesses surrounded by world-class services and support."

Daniels continued: "Building existing relationships and initiating

new ones both within the NRP and with wider stakeholders will be key to our success. We aim to ensure the development of a hub of

scientific activity of international significance."

NRP's facilities for existing and start up companies include the NRP Bioincubator - a purpose built 20,000 square ft facility developed specifically for start up firms containing 12 separate labs each with their own office suite; business development, technology licensing and intellectual property advice; computing and IT support and conference facilities.

NRP Enterprise, alongside Norfolk County Council's Shaping the Future's partnership, has set it itself a number of targets to improve its record on technology transfer, including:

· Increasing awareness, understanding and provision of information on current funding arrangements, NRP facilities, opportunities, support infrastructure and available advice.

· Informing people on successful commercial exploitation of

scientific research from the NRP (76 per cent of respondents said the information they received was inadequate).

· Enhancing business support systems to advise on HR, legal and

government issues and help start ups decide what support they need and the aspects of business they require help with.

· Encouraging young scientists to identify how to turn potential scientific opportunities into successful businesses.

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