By Daniel Hunter

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) launched its annual Fast Forward competition today (Monday), to encourage universities and public sector research establishments to collaborate with businesses and local communities on innovative projects that benefit UK society and can help grow the economy.

Now in its third year, Fast Forward has so far provided £1.25 million in prizes to 23 winning projects in diverse areas, ranging from the creative industries to medical research and social enterprises.

The total prize fund available for this year’s competition is £750,000, which will be awarded to around a dozen projects in individual awards of between £10,000 and £100,000.

“UK universities lead the world as seats of learning, but they are also hubs of innovation, creating and harnessing intellectual property to fuel market competitiveness and economic growth," The IPO’s Chief Executive, Sean Dennehey said.

“Fast Forward recognises and rewards projects that demonstrate innovative approaches to university-industry collaborations, providing funding that can help create new companies and services which benefit the UK economy and society.”

One of the highest profile winners to date is the Bloodhound@University project based at the University of the West of England, which is involved in the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car (SSC) world land speed record project.

Bloodhound@University secured £80,000 in funding from last year’s competition to support an open and collaborative approach to intellectual property arising from its Super Sonic Car.

Dr John Lanham, Director of Bloodhound@University at the University of the West of England said:

“The IPO’s Fast Forward funding has enabled the project to foster an open and collaborative approach to IP sharing. The BloodhoundSSC project will share data from the designing, building, testing and running of the car to provide unprecedented access to teachers, lecturers and students. The project is also working with small and medium enterprises in the technology sector to adopt and adapt some of these practices and policies to improve their competitiveness in the marketplace."

This project is one example of the way Fast Forward can encourage universities and industry to benefit from each other’s strengths and capitalise on their intellectual property.

The closing date for the competition is Friday 14 December 2012.

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