Innovation news in brief: Quantum technologies; BEST network; healthcare; French innovation

The government is to invest millions in quantum technologies research

£204 million funding boost for quantum technologies

Science minister Jo Johnson will today (Tuesday) announce two major investments in science and engineering research totaling £204 million.

Forty UK universities will share £167 million that will support doctoral training over a two-year period, while £37 million will be put into developing the graduate skills, specialist equipment and facilities that will put UK quantum technologies research at the forefront of the field.

The minister will make the announcements during a visit to the University of Oxford where he will meet academics working in the Networked Quantum Information Technologies Quantum Technology Hub, one of four that form part of the £270 million UK National Quantum Technologies Programme.

More information here

Angelo and Trinity complete on BEST science park portfolio buy

US investment manager Angelo Gordon and Trinity Investment Management have closed on the £95 million purchase of Mars Pension Fund’s Business Environments for Science and Technology (BEST), a portfolio of five science parks situated across the UK, reports

The portfolio, which covers 348 acres across the five sites, is the largest privately owned network of science and technology parks in the UK.

Colliers International provided strategic advice to the Angelo Gordon and Trinity Investment Management joint venture throughout the acquisition process.

Kaleigh Haeg, life sciences specialist at Colliers International, said: “Whilst science capabilities in the UK have long been recognised as amongst the best in the world, the science parks that house those institutions and businesses have all too often lacked the necessary strategic thinking to support and deliver the limitless potential offered by advancing life science sectors.

“Our aim is to help Angelo Gordon and Trinity Investment Management transform the BEST network into a globally competitive, strategically designed portfolio of science hot beds, where the tenant base of each park is able to support the necessary synergies required for world-class innovation and commercialisation of science.”

The BEST Network consists of Edinburgh Technopole, Hexagon Tower in Manchester, Kent Science Park, Langstone Technology Park in Havant and Wilton Centre in Teesside.

BIS appoints Gareth Davies as director general for business and science

Gareth Davies has been appointed to the role of director general for business and science at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Davies was previously executive director and chief economist at the Cabinet Office, responsible for civil society, innovation and analysis. He spent his early career in PricewaterhouseCoopers, specialising in asset sales, competition policy and investment appraisal.

Over the past decade he has worked in Downing Street as the prime minister’s lead adviser on welfare reform, been head of the prime minister’s strategy unit and was a board member of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

Having been the interim director general for business and science since September 2015, Davies will continue to lead approximately 450 staff, delivering ministers’ priorities to promote economic growth through research, innovation and transfer of knowledge, skills and ideas, as well as leading directorates with responsibility for business and enterprise.

BIS permanent secretary Martin Donnelly said: “I am delighted to announce the permanent appointment of Gareth Davies. This follows a full open recruitment competition for this vital role, and will provide valuable continuity for the business and science area at this time of change, as well as enabling Gareth to continue his active role in the wider leadership of BIS.”

Medicity Nottingham looks to the future of health technology

Medicity Nottingham is hosting an event that examines future trends in healthcare technology.

The future of Pro-active healthtech – Medicity Innovators Week (MIW) event, which takes place on March 16 2016, will bring together innovators, academics, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and investors to explore future trends within the healthcare and wellbeing industries.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Lord Paul Drayson, chairman; CEO, Drayson Technologies

  • Giovanni Monti: Director of healthcare innovation, Walgreens Boots Alliance

  • David Plans: CEO and co-founder, BioBeats

  • Dr Mike Short: Vice president, Telefonica Europe

  • Paul Thomas: Enterprise architect, Microsoft

More information here

Innovation nations: France beats Ireland and the UK

France is high up on the innovation nation ‘list’, beating Ireland and the UK, writes Panos Mourdoukoutas on

Mourdoukoutas cites Bloomberg’s latest innovation list, where France ranks 10th, well ahead of Ireland, which ranks 15th and the UK, which ranks 17th. France beats Ireland and the UK in three metrics: R&D density, high tech density and researcher concentration.

Muriel Penicaud, CEO of Business France, the national agency supporting the international development of the French economy, said: “Innovation is a top priority for the country [France]. It is sold as a ‘package’ to French and international investors: excellent and affordable R&D and design workforce; a very rich eco-system, structured around dedicated clusters and world-class research facilities, where companies can have access to the best resources, exchange ideas, co-develop to share the risks; and an extremely favorable R&D tax credit system, regularly ranked top among OECD countries.”