Articles

SNC-Lavalin in partnership with UCL - driving research into the real world

February 6, 2019

By Will Squires, Digital Lead, Cities and Development, SNC-Lavalin

Etzkowitz & Leydesdorff (2000)[1] were the first to come up with the concept of the 'triple-helix' of academia, industry and government working hand in hand to drive research and innovation. As the pace of technology accelerates, Ektowitz and Leydesdorff argue that providing a closer connection between these parties, and combining the 'laboratory' of the university with the nous of industry, and the policy of government is the most effective mechanism to harness change and drive it into the lives of everyone. 

I've taken this to heart throughout my career, partly as an example of how you should always seek to keep on the cutting edge of research (I'm a perennial advocate of lifelong learning), but also that engaging academia closely in the work we do is consistently a way to combine different ways of thinking and ultimately lead to better outcomes. As I stood in UCL East's new Robotics facility to launch our new partnership, gazing up at a forty foot robotic arm while our host talked about his work configuring 300-drone swarms, it felt increasingly like a good move. 

Having just signed a new strategic partnership with my alma-mater (ex-Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis), University College London, we spent a day bouncing ideas between a group of people who had different drivers (from playing with transparent concrete to satisfying business managing directors), different backgrounds, but with a combined passion for helping to transform construction and change the way we design, build, create and operate the built environment. I hope you'll get to hear more about some of the exciting ideas we bounced around to test out over the next few months, including potentially monitoring our own estate with cutting-edge Internet of Things technology, working with UCL on a combined project to change how we build a new laboratory to investigate transport systems, and trying to sense bats in Canada, to working with new Masters students to help guide their dissertation topics onto 'real world projects' (a personal passion).

[1] http://www.chss.uqam.ca/Portals/0/docs/sts8020/(20)Etzk-Leides.Triple.Helix.pdf


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