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4/28/2008
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IBM, Cambridge Push For Increased Funding For Service Innovation

The report encourages universities to offer courses in service science, management, and engineering and urges governments to provide more funds for research.

Governments, businesses, and universities should push for more support and funding for service innovation, according to a recent report.

The University of Cambridge and IBM released a report Monday that calls for doubling funds for service education and research to generate prosperity and increase global competitiveness. The report, "Succeeding through Service Innovation," consists of contributions from more than 100 academics and business leaders around the globe. It is based on an international symposium that was held at Cambridge last summer and sponsored by IBM and BAE Systems.

The report states that transportation, communications, and health care account for most of the economy, but those sectors fail to gain support equal to levels in manufacturing and technology research. While service systems have increased in scale and complexity, management of service networks of people, technology, and institutions has lagged behind, the report found.

"Business models are changing and there are enormous opportunities for companies and economies that are able to integrate science, technology, production and service," Professor Mike Gregory, head of the Institute for Manufacturing at Cambridge University Engineering Department, said in a news announcement.

The report encourages universities to offer courses in service science, management, and engineering (SSME) so graduates will understand how to work beyond traditional boundaries. It says researchers should address big business and societal challenges by using an interdisciplinary approach. It urges governments to fund SSME education and research, while working with businesses and universities to fuel service innovation. Finally, the report calls on businesses to create employment policies and career paths that encourage "adaptive innovators," while funding and supporting service research and education.

Service jobs outnumbered agricultural and manufacturing jobs around the glob for the first time in 2007, according to the United Nation's International Labour Organization. The service sector accounts for more than 80% of the U.S. gross domestic product. But a report from RTI International states that R&D investment in services in developed countries generally accounts for less than one-third of R&D spending.

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