A recent qualitative review of the Hartree Centre’s Innovation Return on Research (IROR)1 programme provides an early insight into its potential benefits and the positive experiences of companies working with the programme.
Nine organisations, from SMEs to large-scale enterprises, were interviewed using a semi-structured interview process based on a questionnaire template covering a broad range of business benefits. The review was completed by Hartree Centre partner Cambium LLP, who specialise in collaborative innovation and facilitate the IROR programme.
When asked their views on what business benefits they anticipate from their involvement in IROR, participants demonstrated an appetite and enthusiasm for earlier and more effective adoption of AI and data-driven technologies, and the need to develop the skills required to maximise the potential of these emerging digital technologies.
It was acknowledged that the type of business challenges being addressed through IROR are generally complex and involve higher risks than any individual company would be able to undertake in isolation, therefore many participants showed “solid commitment and enthusiasm to continue with the programme”.
Although it is too early in their experiences for a formal, quantitative assessment of impact, the report is a positive indicator that industry anticipate significant value from incorporating emerging data-intensive and AI technologies into their companies. The expected benefits to their companies include:
Faster time to market and implementation
Greater productivity in research processes
More accurate proofs/reduced need for testing
More efficient use of resources in the manufacturing process
Improved transfer and retention of skills and knowledge across the workforce
The survey review also made a number of recommendations which the Hartree Centre is already addressing. Exploitation plans have been developed for the digital assets created through the programme so far, and participants in the programme continue to benefit from best practice learned through completed projects.
A formal, independent impact evaluation of the IROR programme is forecast for 2022/3.
1 Innovation Return on Research (IROR) is a collaborative programme between the STFC Hartree Centre and IBM Research, developing digital assets which aim to address key industry challenges identified by real businesses.
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