Tech & Digitalisation

A New Model for Science


Briefing4th August 2022

New types of scientific institutions are needed to accelerate and unlock research progress and enable startups in critical technical fields like energy, medicine, and biosecurity.

This new report, co-published with the Entrepreneurs Network and Convergent Research, sets out an emerging institutional model for scientific research – Focused Research Organisations (FROs).

FROs undertake projects that are:

  • too big for a single academic lab to do,

  • too complex for a loose, multi-lab collaboration, 

  • and not directly profitable enough for a venture-backed startup or industrial R&D project.

Key features of FROs are:

  • They are run by full-time technical founders who oversee 10-30 employees

  • They pursue specific, quantifiable technical milestones rather than doing blue-sky research

  • They are finite-duration (5-7 years) efforts 

  • As they near completion, they translate what they have built into venture-backed startup spinouts and/or longer-lived nonprofits

The UK has unique opportunities to leverage the FRO model in biomedicine and net-zero carbon technologies. This is thanks to research infrastructure like the UK Biobank and NHS data sharing programmes; ambitious, innovation-oriented programmes such as the Net Zero plan and ARIA; and research translation and technology dissemination mechanisms such as the Catapult Network and NHS Transformation Directorate. 

 

Download the full briefing here.

 
(Photo by Louis Reed on Unsplash)

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