Universities in the UK need to develop commercial revenue streams to fill funding gaps, and also, to help justify continued public funding, to stimulate innovation and enhance the economy. Information technology (IT) is the source or catalyst for much innovation, historically this been based on much university input. Human-centred design (HCD) approaches, based on research from Human-Computer Interaction and related fields have been shown to be more effective than technically-driven approaches to achieve sustainable innovation based on IT.
However commercialisation requires IT academics to acquire new expertise in business innovation and while sources of this are undoubtedly market- and customer-focused, they tend not be human-centred. At the same time, individual academics may simply not engage with efforts to stimulate commercialisation as they see many personal risks they often feel unable to manage. If commercialisation is to take place, these human factors also need to be addressed.
This paper reflects on successful experiences of applying HCD over ten years of collaboration with industry and considers how to extend these approaches into commercialisation (where, in many ways, universities will now compete with industry). Unexpectedly, a need emerges to clarify the definitions of terms such as innovation and research and development (R&D), in order to meet the varied expectations and requirements of policy makers, public funders and potential investors. Based on engagement over two years with around forty academics on a range of commercialisation ideas, a PACT analysis  illustrates the human factors involved in university commercialisation. Further studies are proposed.