Professor Alan Hughes

Professor Emeritus at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge


Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies (Emeritus)

Senior Research Fellow, National Centre for Universities and Business

Alan Hughes is Margaret Thatcher Professor of Enterprise Studies (Emeritus) at the Cambridge Judge Business School and a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College. Until 2014 he was the Director of the Centre for Business Research (CBR) at the University of Cambridge and of the UK Innovation Research Centre (UK~IRC), a joint venture between Cambridge and Imperial College London. From 2000-2003 he was Co-Director of the National Competitiveness Network of the Cambridge-MIT Institute.

With colleagues at CBR he has pioneered from 1991 onwards the use of regular surveys of the SME sector in the UK. He has published extensively on the results of the regular biennial surveys since then in relation to the financing of SME growth, innovation and SME support policy. He has been involved in a number of evaluations of schemes designed to assist the financing and the promotion of innovation and the commercialisation of science. He has a long standing research interest in corporate governance and the analysis of corporate takeovers including their impact on innovative performance.

His most recent research has focused on the role of universities in innovation, on the nature of knowledge exchange patterns between universities and the science base, and on the financing of technology based start ups. Work in this area with colleagues at the Centre for Business Research, Cambridge, and at the Industrial Performance Center MIT was published in the report Cosh, Hughes and Lester (2006) UK PLC: Just How Innovative Are We?. He has recently completed with colleagues at CBR a 3-year ESRC funded project analysing university-industry links at national and regional levels. This has produced amongst other things a detailed analysis of the involvement of over 22,000 UK academics in commercial and other interactions with the private, public and third sectors. He has published critiques of the usual basis for policy intervention in university-industry links (download here) and with colleagues at PACEC recently completed a report for HEFCE on the US knowledge exchange system and an evaluation of HEIF third stream funding of university commercialisation activities in England. He is a principal investigator on the EPSRC funded project which established the Integrated Knowledge Centre (IKC) in Photonics and Opto-Electronics at Cambridge. With colleagues from the CBR and IKC he has analysed the role of intermediate technology organisations. The results of this have fed directly into the recent UK policy developments in this area (see here and here).

He has acted as an adviser on innovation policy in Europe and Australia and to major international organisations and been invited to lecture on Innovation Policy in the US, China, Japan and Europe. He has been since 2004 a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST) which is the UK’s senior policy advisory body in this area.

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