The reality is that there will be conflicts of interest when academics engage in entrepreneurship and commercialisation. What is important is to put policies and practices into place to deal with them, rather than trying to avoid them.

This was the key message from Ms Jaci Barnett (above), an expert from the Oxentia Ltd team and Head of Consulting Services at Oxford University Innovation, when leading a seminar on Challenges and Risks in Innovation, last week. The seminar was part of the Innovation Systems and Academic Entrepreneurship workshop of the Entrepreneurship Development in Higher Education (EDHE) programme which took place from 16 to 17 February, funded by the British Council. The train-the-trainers workshop was facilitated by experts from Oxentia Ltd, Oxford’s global innovation consultancy.

South African born Barnett has impressive credentials. She has more than 15 years’ experience in research commercialisation and technology transfer. Until 2017, she was the Head of Research Commercialisation and Investment at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and, prior to that, was Director of the Innovation Office at Nelson Mandela University in South Africa for more than 10 years.