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Tuesday, 11 July 2006. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House. Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Andy Cliff was presiding, with the Senior Proctor, the Junior Proctor, a Pro-Proctor, the Registrary's deputy, and eleven other persons present.
The following Reports were discussed:
Third Report of the Council, dated 29 May 2006, on the proposed East Forum building at West Cambridge (p. 704).
Professor I. M. LESLIE:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the East Forum is a building of three parts: space for Cambridge Enterprise, communal facilities for the site, and space to be let to commercial tenants. It is to be funded by a combination of a donation from the Hauser Raspe Foundation and commercial development, with the University providing the land which the Forum will occupy.
The East Forum is long overdue, bogged down in wranglings over intellectual property and affordability. As Head of the Computer Laboratory when it moved to West Cambridge in 2001, I sought and was given assurances that communal facilities, including catering and a convenience store, would be provided promptly. This has not happened. The original proposal for the East Forum based on an internal loan was criticized on grounds of affordability. The proposal has since been restructured to remove financial risk from the University. It was said that the East Forum should wait for the IP policy decisions and the organizational decisions with respect to Cambridge Enterprise - statements that baffled me - but this we have done. Now the two objections seem to be that the business plan for Cambridge Enterprise contains uncertainties, and that having handed building risk to a developer, the University is not the landlord of the commercial space and thus tenants may move in that might attempt to gain some advantage by way of a cosy relationship with Cambridge Enterprise. (Actually to be accurate, no one seems to be concerned with cosy relationships, rather the perception of cosy relationships.)
Business plans for technology transfer offices will always contain uncertainties; one is fundamentally drawing a ring around the riskiest operations of the University. Indeed, one of the motivations for the proposed incorporation is to make this ring solid rather than semi-permeable as it is now. But it is unreasonable to expect a plan which depends on discoveries yet to happen both within and outwith the University to be without risk or uncertainty.
On the issue of cosy relationships, I am puzzled by the rather naïve view that this has something to do with physical proximity. Transparency is the key to eliminating such relationships and, I submit, physical proximity increases awareness and vigilance. Suspicion is fine, paranoia is not, particularly when it denies the wider community facilities that are needed.
The incubation space described in this proposal enhances the business plan for Cambridge Enterprise. Cambridge Enterprise will charge rental and service costs to tenants, but the rental income will be retained under the conditions of the donation and used to further the mission of Cambridge Enterprise. Walter Herriot, who runs the incubation space at the St John's Innovation Centre, recently wrote to me offering his support for the project, both in terms of encouraging entrepreneurial activities and in strengthening the relationship between Cambridge Enterprise and the St John's Innovation Centre.
The East Forum development will free up space for the Computer Laboratory. It will enhance the University's capacity to commercialize research outputs. It will provide communal facilities that are required now. As more development takes place on the site - Physics for Medicine, the Institute for Manufacturing - the demand for these facilities will increase. At some point the University will be held to account by the local planners for failing to provide facilities on the site. I do not believe that further delay is prudent.
Professor D. J. MASKELL (read by Professor I. M. LESLIE):
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I speak as the Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine, which was of course the first Department to be established on the West Cambridge site. We have seen much development at the West Cambridge site in recent years, some aspects of which have given us some problems, but which I nevertheless recognize as being essential to the continuing progress of the University. It is clear that so far there has been little in the way of communal facilities provided at West Cambridge. The East Forum, which has been promised to us for quite some time, will change this state of affairs.
I have read the Note of Dissent published in the Reporter. I find the sentiments that underlie it disturbing. West Cambridge was planned with interaction with industry very much in mind, which is of course to be welcomed, never more so than right now with the Government's recent pronouncements about research funding. Incubator space is useful and complementary to other provisions such as the Science Park or the St John's Innovation Centre. I hope that in the not too distant future 'wet laboratory' incubator space can be developed at West Cambridge too, but that is a matter for another day.
I see that there is concern about possible conflicts of interest and take that to imply that there are concerns that venture capitalists who may be located in the commercial part of the East Forum might be given preferential access to intellectual property owned by Cambridge Enterprise. Why would they? Who on earth in the University would make such a deal? Given that academics have a big say in how the IP they create is commercialized I don't see how there could possibly be a problem. Having set up my own biotech company some years ago, and having been around the venture capital scene a bit since, I think that there is zero likelihood of anything untoward happening, given the scrutiny that any VC located in the building would be likely to attract.
Not content with worrying about the potential for real conflicts of interest, I see that there is also concern that there may appear to be conflicts of interest, or that they may be suspected. These kinds of concerns are always most prevalent amongst those who imagine that nefarious deeds are being done in every cubby-hole and round every dark corner. This is just nonsense and precisely the kind of bizarre thing that many of my colleagues outside Cambridge simply cannot believe goes on here. Suspicious minds always see problems even in the most innocent of situations.
Dissent is fine when founded on facts and clear thinking. This kind of dissent, on the other hand, seems to me to be based simply on trying to continue the IP war long after it has been lost. It interferes unnecessarily with the proper running of the University and prevents the delivery of strategically important facilities and space for West Cambridge.
Dr N. A. DODGSON:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I wish to speak to two issues: the note of dissent and the provision of site-wide facilities at West Cambridge.
With regard to the note of dissent: I am concerned that four members of Council chose to issue a note of dissent on this Report. One or two dissenters may perhaps be ignored. But it is rare for as many as four to disagree with the majority view and even rarer for them to be sufficiently concerned that they issue a note of dissent. If the papers seen by the Council are insufficient to convince these four of the wisdom of the proposal, then the Regent House should be concerned also. It would seem prudent for the Council to revisit this issue in order to address the concerns of these four of its members.
With regard to site-wide facilities in West Cambridge: the Report says that one of the three main objectives of the East Forum is: 'to act as a social focus for the West Cambridge site, providing catering and other facilities to supplement those already embedded in Departments on the site'. The first Report in 2002 adds the parenthetical comment that 'this is both a planning requirement and a response to the perceived needs of present and future occupants on the West Cambridge site'.1 The West Cambridge site now has a significant number of occupants. There are the residence blocks, with 206 flats, a nursery, the CAPE, Nanoscience, Needham, and Gates Buildings, all having been occupied in the past five years, and the Veterinary Medicine, Physics, and Astronomy Departments, all of which have been on site for decades. However, the 'other facilities' in the East Forum appear now to consist solely of 'informal social space'. The only current facilities for occupants of the site are four catering operations open during office hours. In the Discussion on the First Report on 8 July 2003, the Head of the Computer Laboratory read a statement on behalf of the Computer Science Syndicate: 'The Syndicate notes with some concern that the Report contains no mention of site facilities in the East Forum, other than the relocation of existing catering. When the Computer Laboratory moved to West Cambridge it was advised that the East Forum would include not only catering facilities but shops available to the whole West Cambridge Site. the provision of something as simple as a convenience store and an Automatic Teller Machine would improve the quality of life for inhabitants of West Cambridge enormously. The Syndicate strongly urges the Council to consider the issue of shops in the East Forum in any further development of the proposal'.2 Please can the Council comment on whether it considered this issue when preparing its Third Report.
In the same Discussion, the Treasurer commented that 'The East Forum building itself does not include a shop. However, the residences/nursery development adjacent to the East Forum includes three commercial units along the southern boundary. Negotiations are in hand to secure a convenience store as a tenant with the intention of the store being able to commence operations once the residences are occupied. Discussions with several ATM providers have taken place with the aim of providing ATM facilities at West Cambridge'. The residences have now been occupied for over a year; there is no store. An ATM has been promised for over three years; there is no ATM.
In their Notice of 18 April 2005, responding to the Discussion on the Second Report, Council say: 'Professor A. Mycroft referred to the need for additional facilities at the West Cambridge site, including a convenience shop and a cash dispenser. The Council accept the need for the provision of basic shopping facilities and a cash dispenser at West Cambridge. Plans are in hand which they expect to lead to such facilities being in place early in the next academical year'. 3 The academical year to which the Council refers has just ended.
In their Notice of 3 July 2006, responding to the Discussion on the First-stage Report of the Council on the construction of a new building for the Institute for Manufacturing at West Cambridge, the Council's position has changed to be that 'The long-term intention is to install an ATM in the East Forum. Only if a retail unit were let would it be possible to consider an ATM at West Cambridge prior to provision in the East Forum'.4
In light of this, please can the Council comment on:
(i) whether the University is actively looking for a tenant willing to run a convenience store and, if so, how soon such a tenant is expected to be in place;
(ii) given that financial viability is a concern, whether the University is willing to subsidize such a tenant for a few years in order to get a suitable facility on site for well over a thousand employees, students, and residents.
1 Reporter, 2002-03, p. 1029.
2 Reporter, 2002-03, p. 1180.
3 Reporter, 2004-05, p. 615.
4 Reporter, 2005-06, p. 782.
Mr R. J. DOWLING:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this Report is a mess. Three different buildings are being proposed, for three different purposes: the café, the lettable block, and the Cambridge Enterprise Building, with three different sources of funds identified: the University, the Developer, and the Donor. But not three Reports; these are all tied together in one jumbo Report. And not three locations; they are all placed together in West Cambridge. So how are they linked?
Is the Developer unhappy building two out of three buildings at a pro rata cost without his lettable block? Is the Donor unwilling to give us money if the Cambridge Enterprise building is not on the West Cambridge site? Can the University not afford to build a café except as a small element of a larger project? All of these explanations are possible, plausible, and not unreasonable for why this trinity of buildings is bound so tightly together. But the Report does not tell us. We cannot make an informed decision.
This is a Report that stinks of secret deals and understandings, of mutual back-scratching and hidden favours.
We are assured that no special privileges will be granted to the Donor and that, likewise, no special privileges will be granted to the tenants of the lettable space. Let me make a prediction: the Donor will be a tenant of the lettable building and will get on very well with the nearby Cambridge Enterprise. But strictly speaking, no privileges will be granted.
Watch this space. Or rather, watch these three quite distinct but strangely adjacent spaces.
Professor A. HOPPER (read by Professor A. MYCROFT):
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Computer Laboratory has a five-year plan which is likely to fill the Gates Building. Unfortunately, this expansion strategy has already been affected by lack of allocated space. Additional space at West Cambridge will make for an easy transition of Cambridge Enterprise and Intel to new accommodation. Furthermore, it will allow the University to comply with the wishes of the donors who had the intention of the building being used for the Computer Laboratory.
The Computer Laboratory is very successful and profitable and as Head of Department I hope the East Forum project goes ahead as soon as possible.
Professor A. MYCROFT:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the majority of members of the Regent House, and probably even the majority of the Computer Laboratory, are indifferent (i) as to whether Cambridge Enterprise is based near other entrepreneurs on the Science Park, or close to academics at West Cambridge; and (ii) indeed as to whether the University should run its own venture capital and incubation units, or leave it to the market - provided there is no compulsion to use such facilities.
To us in the Computer Laboratory housed in the William Gates Building, the most significant phrase in the Report is '4.(6) Running costs of the Cambridge Enterprise Building' and its suggestion of 'a 'do nothing option' under which Cambridge Enterprise remains in its current accommodation [also the William Gates Building]'. I am surprised that Council made this seemingly prejudicial suggestion when, concurrently, it was answering my concern about Cambridge Enterprise overstaying its use of our building by saying 'The Council have referred [Professor Mycroft's] remarks which relate to the allocation of the top floor of the William Gates Building to the Planning and Resources Committee'.1
Please let us be clear: allowing Cambridge Enterprise (or any other institution) to overrun the expiry of its lease of part of the William Gates Building violates the intentions (that it would contain computer science research and teaching) of the Gates Foundation's donation towards its construction, contradicts the Council's own stated policy, and inhibits implementation of the Computer Laboratory's strategic plan. For more details see my comments on the 'First-stage Report of the Council on the construction of a new building for the Institute for Manufacturing at West Cambridge'.2
The Computer Laboratory is one of the most academically, and financially, successful Departments in the University. We believe that Council needs urgently to determine where Cambridge Enterprise will move to (not a 'do nothing' option), and in a timescale to allow us to develop according to our strategic plan. Perhaps Professor Leslie's suggestion of closer collaboration with St John's Innovation Centre offers the possibility of a temporary home there for Cambridge Enterprise until the East Forum is built. The so-called 'do nothing' option is hugely expensive in terms of opportunity cost to both the Computer Laboratory and the University. Please may I continue to ask 'when can we have our building back?'.3
1 Reporter, 2005-06, p. 782.
2 Reporter, 2005-06, p. 656.
3 Reporter, 2005-06, p. 656.
Professor G. R. EVANS (read by Mr D. J. GOODE):
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am disturbed to read only paraphrases and summaries of the important 'heads of agreement with Developer' and the donation agreement with Hauser Raspe. The devil is liable to be in the details and exact wording is important when a decision of this sort, huge in both its policy and its financial implications for the future of the University, is to be taken by the Regent House on the basis of a comparatively brief Report.
There is a mounting heap of evidence, which is getting so high that it can be seen from all parts of the globe, that joint ventures are dangerous. They tend to be driven by enthusiastic spin and to be short on clarity about the implications of the hybridization of academe and industry, and suspiciously silent on exit strategies. The failure of CMI Ltd is going to remain Cambridge's Millennium Dome in the public perception for a very long time and I am not aware that there is any plan to provide the Regent House, or Gordon Brown, with a hard-headed analysis of what went wrong and why. Surely a new Shattock and Finkelstein inquiry is appropriate there?
In this present Report the Regent House is asked merely to give its final consent to a building project. But this is much more than a building project. May we have built-in to this present proposal before it is graced an undertaking to the Regent House that it will be kept informed about developments in regular published Reports? That was promised for CMI Ltd but it never happened.
The joint venture proposed here, geographically located in the East of England, juxtaposing academe and industry in circumstances likely to promote some mingling of blood, raises questions. The recent Library House report on 'The impact of the University of Cambridge on the UK Economy and Society', flagged up on the News section of the University's web page, shows how easily business standards can infect and debase those of academe. Although this apparently began as a University project it acquired a lot of partners, and became a joint venture, with Library House ('the pre-eminent source of insight and information on private high-growth companies in the UK'), the East of England Development Agency, Cambridge Network, and the Greater Cambridge Partnership (an 'umbrella organisation of public and private sector interests').
Library House claims to have developed a 'Higher Education Impact Model' but its authors have written a dissertation to which any Cambridge University examiner would give gamma for research methodology and clarity of expression. As to accuracy, alumni were invited to contribute some of the 'research' data on which the 'Impact' report depends. They were told that 'The University has commissioned the first quantitative assessment of the substantial contributions that its Alumni have made to the UK economy. You can support us in this undertaking by spending a few moments to tell us about your achievements since leaving Cambridge'. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) was warned that there was nothing to prevent the making of spurious submissions and that such submissions had actually been made. Yet the authors of the report (p. 31) give us no reason to believe that they tested their evidence and they certainly did not do their homework when it came to explaining how the University is governed and what it is for. A foreword by Lord Simon of Highbury, one of the external members of the Council, hints at his awareness of some of these shortcomings. Compare the recent Royal Society Report on 'Science and the Public Interest: Communicating the Results of New Scientific Research to the Public'. Carefully drafted, properly researched and referenced, a serious contribution to public debate. That is the quality of publication Cambridge should insist on when it commissions a document which is to be published in its name.
What protection is there against this kind of cross-infection by the debased standards of commercial 'research' and writing occurring when academic and commercial operations share space and life together? How can we be sure that the academics will not begin to adopt entrepreneurial attitudes in ways prejudicial to research quality? If the University sells out its standards why should not they?
Finally, I invite the Council to clarify for us in its reply the manner in which it is to be ensured that there are not going to be future embarrassing revelations of the kind of conflict of interest on which concern is expressed in the dissenting note to the Report we are discussing. Four dissenters. Four. The Council ought not to ignore such a note of concern.
Dr D. R. de LACEY (read by Mr D. J. GOODE):
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, this is a somewhat minimal Report. May I remind the Council that in the Discussion on the First Report the Treasurer assured us that 'Construction of the East Forum will not start until the project has been brought to the Regent House for a second time, for explicit approval of a detailed proposal'.1 Well, the Second Report was not exactly brimming with detail, but included the statement that 'Detailed costings will be provided in a further Report seeking final approval'.2 It is hard to view this Report as satisfying those promises.
If we look only at the objectives of the scheme, details are lacking:
There are other concerns too. Are we confident in the financial plan? £8m is a very generous donation, and three years ago may even have seemed adequate, but costs have not stood still. If the costs overrun, where will the rest of the money come from? Perhaps from the Quinquennial Equalization Fund? (May I incidentally correct a misapprehension of the Council: I did not 'express concern about [its] depletion' in the last Discussion, I questioned our right to create a huge negative balance while pretending we are a mere £0.8m overspent.)
In the Business Plan for Cambridge Enterprise we were informed '12. The position of CE Ltd will be reviewed five years from incorporation to assess its performance'.3 To put it into its own expensive accommodation (built to last, one hopes, significantly more than five years) is bound to be seen to affect the results of any assessment.
And on perception, how in practice is the Council planning to avoid conflicts of interest? I see no way in which they can avoid the perception of such conflicts, which will be damaging alike to the University and its tenants.
When four members of Council feel the need to sign a note of dissent to a Report, the Regent House must surely take note, and ask the Council to think again.
1 Reporter, 2002-03, p. 1180.
2 Reporter, 2004-05, p. 478.
3 Reporter, 2005-06, p. 683.
Dr M. R. CLARK (read by Mr D. J. GOODE):
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, as a member of Council I did not sign this Report but instead supported a note of dissent, signed by three other members of the Council, including one of the external members, and that highlighted a major concern I have with one aspect of this Report. It also seems strange that discussion of this Report was delayed to this date in the summer vacation since it was available for signing by the Council at the same time as the proposal to set Cambridge Enterprise up as a limited company. Perhaps typesetting of the short note of dissent was a problem, or perhaps it was considered tactical to separate discussion of Cambridge Enterprise Ltd from the proposed new home for Cambridge Enterprise Ltd?
Whatever the reason, I am having to ask for these remarks to be read in my absence since I am away on vacation in the French Alps. I suspect others may have been caught in a similar way but have been unable to arrange for their opinions to be expressed. My main objection to the Report is that there is a conflict of interests over the inclusion of a limited number of commercial tenants who will be co-located with members of Cambridge Enterprise Ltd and who will also share the communal facilities, e.g. the Café/Atrium, with other Departments on the West Cambridge site. In paragraph 2(iii) a main objective of this Report is 'to foster collaboration between the University and business, by co-locating relevant tenants'. The problem is that there is limited space and so only a few selected tenants will be co-located, and also that it is envisaged that these tenants are likely to be businesses that offer professional services to University staff, such as patent lawyers, investment bankers, venture capitalists. It seems to me that it is inevitable that conflicts of interest are of major concern in such a situation. Let me give just a few examples of the kinds of scenario that concern me. Patent lawyers, like any other lawyers, are not supposed to represent multiple clients whose interests are in clear conflict with each other. So, for example, if two academics were to invent competing technologies which might require resolution in the courts they could not both be represented by the same lawyers. Equally if a patent lawyer were already representing a client from outside the University in a given dispute they could not also represent a client from within the University for the same dispute. But it is envisaged that selected law firms might have the privileged position of being co-located within the East Forum. They would be sharing the same building with staff of Cambridge Enterprise, using the same canteen facilities, and they might have access to information about who is visiting Cambridge Enterprise, or other tenants within the building, and even perhaps the ability to overhear conversations in the public areas such as the Café/Atrium.
Certainly it is expected in the Report that they would be forming close relationships with members of Cambridge Enterprise and other members of the University on the West Cambridge site. This situation is quite unlike the kinds of conflicts that arise when sharing research facilities between commercial and University research and thus we should not be lulled into the woolly thinking of some that it is no different to the University sharing facilities with Microsoft Research, for example. A patent lawyer is supposed to be offering a professional service to an individual client and looking after the best interests of their individual client. Similar arguments could apply to other professional services such as banking and provision of venture capital.
Although paragraph 5(1) states that there are 'No special privileges for tenants of Lettable Building', this is a hollow promise, since any commercial tenant is going to see that the main privileges are going to be special access to staff and information through being co-located in the same building and sharing the same communal facilities. I think that this situation is not in the best interests of either the University or those individual academics who wish to approach Cambridge Enterprise Ltd for help and advice in promoting their IPR. There should be an expectation of confidentiality and impartiality about the help and advice obtained, and that this is not best served by even an appearance of a selected special relationship with only some businesses offering professional services.
Mr D. J. GOODE:
Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, when I joined the University, along with my contract of employment I was sent a copy of the Staff Guide. On page 36 of the guide, the value of meeting with others is extolled in the following effusive terms: 'The University operates in a largely decentralised manner. You should therefore take every opportunity to meet experienced colleagues who will be able to introduce you to a valuable network of contacts People in Cambridge are very used to working in this way, and you are strongly encouraged to develop as many work-linked and social contacts as you can throughout the University and its Colleges'.1
The Third Report says: '2. The three main objectives of the East Forum project are: (i) to act as a social focus for the West Cambridge site, providing catering and other facilities to supplement those already embedded in Departments on the site; (ii) to provide Cambridge Enterprise with office space, including incubation space to accommodate early-stage start-ups, and a seminar centre; (iii) to foster collaboration between the University and business, by co-locating relevant tenants'.
Very laudable, and entirely in keeping with the strong encouragement for staff to engage in 'networking'. It's nice to know that there will be a café, and an atrium, where University staff can enjoy a nice cup of tea and a chinwag with well, with who? Colleagues and other University staff. Nothing wrong with that. With staff of Cambridge Enterprise. That's not too bad. They can discuss the commercial exploitation of their IP.
But there will be other 'relevant tenants' skulking around, straining their commercially tuned ears for tea-room tidbits as they rub shoulders in the queue and jostle at the till with University and Cambridge Enterprise staff.
The Third Report goes on to say: 'No tenant of the Lettable Building will have any preferred investor status in spin-out companies, nor any special access to University intellectual property'. Well, pardon me if I sound a bit cynical, but a firm of specialist IP lawyers with a small 'Cambridge office' of less than 1,000 sq.m. in the Lettable Building and using the café and atrium on at least a thrice-daily basis most certainly would have 'special access to University intellectual property' compared to a rival firm based, say, in Aberdeen.
There is also confusion in the Third Report as to who these 'relevant tenants' might be. The third of the three main objectives I quoted a moment ago is 'to foster collaboration between the University and business, by co-locating relevant tenants'. But the Third Report goes on to say in paragraph 5 (4) that 'the Developer will be responsible for the choice of tenants'. Well, having (according to paragraph 4 (4)) accepted to bear all the letting risk and all the construction risk on all three buildings, Turnstone Ltd would be barking mad not to let space to the highest bidder, and we can all guess who would benefit the most from, and therefore be prepared to pay the most for, office space in East Forum.
The potential here for conflict of interest is real. I ask Council to withdraw this Report, and think again. We need to be above suspicion, and this Third Report has done nothing to allay mine.
1 Staff Guide for academic, academic-related and research staff
Mr R. VOHRA:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I am the co-president of Cambridge University Entrepreneurs, a student-run organization which runs the University business planning and creation competitions. In the last seven years we have awarded over £280,000 to help more than 30 companies start from the University. Of these, eighteen are actively trading and together they are worth more than £20m. Their message through me is simple and urgent. The aspect of the proposed East Forum buildings which is of most interest to University start-ups is the provision of more incubator space.
Previous speakers on this topic have correctly noted that there is an excess of rented office space in Cambridge. However, the space available to early-stage companies is both limited and also in high demand.
There are presently three options for early-stage companies looking for incubator space in Cambridge: the Cambridge Enterprise incubator in the William Gates Building, the St John's Innovation Centre, and the Cambridge Science Park Innovation Centre. All three offer accommodation on an easy-in, easy-out basis so that tenants can move in or out with short notice. The Cambridge Enterprise incubator and St John's Innovation centre provide free business advice to their tenants through teams of experienced professionals. Incubator space differentiates itself from generic office space through the provision of flexible leases and value-added services.
The following figures were obtained from the relevant managers at these three organizations. The current Cambridge Enterprise incubator covers approximately 2,500 sq.ft. and is filled to capacity with a significant waiting list. The Cambridge Science Park Innovation Centre covers approximately 6,500 sq.ft. and is also filled to capacity with a waiting list, including their new expansion. The St John's Innovation Centre covers approximately 85,000 sq.ft. and is also filled to capacity with a waiting list. Incubator space is clearly in high demand.
With the proposed incubator roughly six times the size of our present one in the William Gates Building the University will be able to better service its own needs.
On behalf of the companies coming through our organization, we look forward to the provision of more incubator space: we look forward to space that is available on flexible terms, we look forward to space that is near to teams of experienced professionals with valuable advice, and we look forward to space that is a short distance away from our potential clients, customers, and investors.
Professor R. J. ANDERSON:
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, four of us, including the Chair of the Audit Committee, signed a note of dissent to this Report. We stated: 'We are concerned that the co-location of Cambridge Enterprise with selected professional service firms may give rise to conflicts of interest; it is very likely to give rise to the appearance or suspicion of such conflicts'. I believe I should expand on this.
We have been promised facilities in West Cambridge since the Cavendish was built in the 1970s, but one VC after another had higher priorities. So Departments moving to West Cambridge have to provide for our own catering and our own lecture space, and the site has been developed less quickly than it might have been. So it is welcome to see at last a proposal for a 'Café/Atrium'. But it is disappointing to see no provision for shared lecture rooms. The Report is also half-baked in other ways. A building Report traditionally comes with plans for us to look at; this offering merely states that 'the East Forum is now expected to comprise three buildings'. We don't even have a commitment to the number three. That is not satisfactory. Given the lack of data, its timing, and the fact that it relates (or, may relate) to more than one building, this Report fails to meet even the most basic precedents and governance standards.
As regular readers of the Reporter will be aware, this project started off shortly after the creation of RSD, with an offer of a donation of a building to house the donor's venture-capital company, RSD's technology transfer arm, and social facilities for physics and computer science. The world is now very different: the dotcom boom is over, Cambridge has a surplus of office space, and our new IP policy gives us a very strong motivation to develop our ideas ourselves rather than with the help of Cambridge Enterprise - that way we get taxed 15% on our IP rather than 67%. But the Old Schools appear unable to abandon any project, however obsolete: policy has no reverse gear.
Next time we consider our governance arrangements, we should enact a rule that no proposal should be put more than twice to the Regent House by Council in any one decade.
Anyway, we are now told there may be separate buildings for the café, for Cambridge Enterprise, and for the lettable building, of which the donor's company will presumably become a tenant. But this is in all important respects the same East Forum project that this House has rejected on two previous occasions. My Council colleagues and I still feel that there is a serious and continuing risk of conflicts of interest arising, or appearing to arise. RSD's reputation has taken a pounding during the debates over IP, the departure of its Director, and the spin-out of Cambridge Enterprise. Cambridge Enterprise will now have to work hard, under its new Director, to re-establish the trust of the academic community. Bedding it down with a controversial donor is just not the way to do that.
There is also a view, held widely within the School of Technology, that the University's Estate policy isn't fair to us. Although we are academically strong and financially profitable, we are in such cramped quarters that we cannot recruit as many research students and postdocs as we would like. Although Cambridge has the largest estate pro rata of any UK university, we have parts of Engineering located in the Science Park. And although we raised $20m from Bill Gates for a computer science building, we now find Cambridge Enterprise encamped on much of our top floor, together with a number of tenant companies - one of which attempted to misrepresent itself as being part of the Computer Laboratory until we put them on notice. Meanwhile, one research group has had to move next door to the CAPE building. When we complain, we're told it's our fault; if we hadn't objected to the East Forum project, it would have been built by now and we would have our space back. This has the whiff of collective punishment, of petty vindictiveness. Regents should also consider whether sequestering part of a donor building in such circumstances sets the right tone for our octocentenary fundraising efforts.
Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Old Schools have got us in a complete mess over this, as indeed over every other project connected to RSD under its previous management. Let us go back to first principles. As we stated in the rest of our Note of Dissent: 'Cambridge Enterprise should be in town or in a science park; spin-out companies should be in a science park with their peers and competitors, or in low-cost premises; and the development of West Cambridge should focus on academic departments. Attempting to kill two birds with one stone is seldom wise as one ends up missing both'.
Report of the General Board, dated 30 May 2006, on the establishment of a Professorship of Law (p. 740).
No comments were made on this Report.
Report of the General Board, dated 7 June 2006, on the establishment of a Professorship of Comparative Immunogenetics (p. 740).
No comments were made on this Report.
Report of the General Board, dated 7 June 2006, on the establishment of a Readership in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics (p. 741).
No comments were made on this Report.
Report of the General Board, dated 7 June 2006, on the establishment of a Moran Professorship of Conservation and Development (p. 767).
No comments were made on this Report.
Report of the General Board, dated 7 June 2006, on the establishment of a Professorship of Systems Biology and Biochemistry (p. 768).
No comments were made on this Report.
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Cambridge University Reporter 19 July 2006
Copyright © 2006 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.