Crawford launches Caledonian fund to avert cash crisis

Crawford launches Caledonian fund to avert cash crisis
The Herald

Glasgow Caledonian University director Robert Crawford is poised to launch a £500,000 academic commercialisation fund after what he described as ‘years of frustration’ in his former role as chief executive of Scottish Enterprise.

The new strategic investment fund, which will be open to business proposals from staff and faculty members at the beginning of February, will offer £50,000 per project.

The investment fund, which is being financed from the university’s annual budget, is also open to students at £5000 per project.

advertisementThe idea is part of Caledonian’s solution to combat the increasing uncertainty at Scottish universities over their financial future, and connects with the overriding national drive to exploit the talents and ingenuity found at Scotland’s higher education institutions.

The introduction of top-up tuition fees in England has added to the concern that universities north of the border will be unable to attract the best research staff unless the Scottish Government increases funding drastically.

Crawford, who became Caledonian’s executive director responsible for business development and commercialisation in 2006, said: ‘Caledonian does not have much of a history of linking its academia with industry, so this fund is all about showing that we are committed to changing that.

‘For me, there were years of frustration at Scottish Enterprise where people just talked a lot about this kind of thing. Now we’re actually doing something about it.’

He added: ‘Something has to be done about the funding problems at universities before it’s too late.’

The university is hoping for a four-to-one return on its investments from the strategic fund. Although, Crawford said he would be ‘happy if it broke even’ at this stage.

The new fund is also open to social enterprise organisations, which are defined loosely as ‘for-profit groups that are run for social good’.

The appointment of Crawford, aged 56, at Caledonian came three years after he resigned from Scottish Enterprise, claiming the organisation had been turned into a ‘political football’ and complaining of the pressure on his personal life of the high-profile post.

As part of the university’s commercialisation push, Crawford has taken on board Martin Togneri, the former head of inward investment at external trade agency Scottish Development International, and Andy McNair, the former head of technology business network Connect Scotland.