Tagged / event

Economic Growth, Business & Higher Education

I am just back from a day in London at a posh briefing event which can be summarised as ‘the lunch not much cop, but the talks were surprisingly good and gave me lots to think about’.  So I thought it was worth sharing some of this while it was fresh in my mind.  David Sweeny (Director of Research, Innovation & Skills, HEFCE) started the day talking about REF and impact amongst other things.  One of the things that interested me was the return on investment from business interaction: £4-7 for every £1 spent which is quite good!  But impact is seen as a way of adding to the value of this investment further and the return on the RAE/REF which has consistently placed the UK ahead of the game.  For example, internationally we produce 5% of all the PhD’s globally, 7.9% of all research publications from just 1% of the World’s population!  Staff at BU play an important part in this.

It was the next talk that really made me sit up.  It was from a guy at Oxford Brookes (Kevin Maynard) talking about their approach to enterprise or to use his jargon ‘Knowledge Exchange’.  He was making the point that what is really crucial is that Knowledge Exchange – enterprise by another name – was not about wealth creation for an institution but about the ‘inflow’ of knowledge to inform it core businesses of research and education.  This is an important concept since he argued that it was central to: (1) employability, (2) course development, (3) ensuring research relevance to business/industry/society, and (4) increasing the breadth and capacity of the academic team and its professional development.  What he didn’t say, but is crucial here, is that it is central to a good student experience and staff motivation around enterprise.  I was really impressed by this since it is about the wider benefits to us as academics in engaging with industry/business rather than about simply generating income.  It is worth saying that they are also ahead of the game on that front too, but it is not the driver or what motivates academics to engage and engage they do.  One other point which also struck a cord was the idea of using CPD provision as a market tester for degree programmes; a dam sight cheaper to run up a couple of CPD courses than a whole degree and see it fail for lack of recruitment!

Paul Mason (Head of Development, Technology Strategy Board) was up next and talked about the re-vamp of their strategy due out later this month, but the bit I liked here was that he was talking about being ‘challenge led’ not ‘product driven’.  You start by finding out what the challenges are and then broker a solution based on the range of products or interventions you have available or can source.  This is basically what I have been talking about around BU  in the context of knowledge brokering as a way forward for us.  It is an important point; instead of working out what products we have to sell – CPD, different flavours of consultancy etc. – we need to first find out what challenges business face and want solving.  This fits with the need to be outward rather than inward facing in our approach in developing our new Research & Enterprise Strategy.  If we are to live the idea of providing a student experience in which employability is written large then links to business, industry and the professions are vital and we will need to up our game in these areas and being seen to provid real business/industry solutions is one way to do this.

There were several other speakers who talked about the importance of innovation and generating economic growth within future allocations of HEIF funding and the importance of promoting our success in applying and exploiting our research.  The importance of engaging with Local Economic Partnerships following the demise of the Regional Development Agency was also a common theme and something for us to reflect on as we develop our regional strategy.

The next speaker to make me sit up after my lunch time disappointment was Neil Bowering (Knowledge Transfer Account Manager, at Glasgow) he was talking about the Easy Access IP scheme which Glasgow have pioneered and received large amounts of fame and glory for.  His job is to exploit the IP in the large EPSRC portfolio at Glasgow.  Basically they give the majority of their IP, over 90%, away for free to any third party who can exploit it, keeping just a very small proportion to develop them selves.  It is a highly streamlined process on the basis that getting IP out and out fast is the key and that there is very rarely much money to be made given the cost of exploiting and developing products/ideas for market.  The real key is to make knowledge useful and work for economic growth and society by freely giving it up rather than developing it slowly/poorly, or trying to negotiate at length a stake in its exploitation.   It is the reputational gain that is the key factor and the ongoing dialogue with companies who take on that IP that counts.  Very streamlined, straight forward with four simple conditions on which the IP is given away. University resources directed were they need to be direct.  A fantastic scheme and model for us to look at; certainly one realistic to the nature and quantity of the IP we generate at BU.

Sir Tim Wilson former VC at Hertfordshire and a big wheel in a range of CBI and Business Engagement committees/reviews made a really nice point about a university education.  It is taken for granted by business/employers that graduates will have the key knowledge and the key technical ability, but what they are looking for more than anything are the intellectual skills that will set a graduate apart in the race for jobs.  The ability to critically think is central.   I am sure that our graduates have this but perhaps we should reflect more on how we develop and promote these vital skills?  This links with something that David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce had to say; graduates need work force training.  He particularly was drawing attention to skills of team work, customer service, communications and self management on top of core competency in numeracy, literacy and IT.

The final bit that is worth drawing attention to is from Staffordshire University and their success in producing a ‘one-stop door’ for all business enquires and importance of creating a business sales force within a university that is grounded both in business speak and the culture of academia.  This sales team act as translators projecting a professional sales orientated pitch outwards (based on relationship marketing), while allowing academics to be innovative and creative in their own way.  Effectively they act as the interface between these very different communities and cultures.  There is a lot to learn from this model especially around business relationship marketing and the long lead times involved.  One aside was reference to placements as part of an extended recruitment selection process for graduates which is self evident but worth reflecting on.

So in summary there is lots of good practice out there to learn from and to develop this summer as we evolve BU’s future Research & Enterprise Strategy.

Vice-Chancellor’s Awards – research project winners!

The Vice-Chancellor’s Awards took place last night and the winner’s of the two research awards were:

Collaborative research / enterprise project of the year: Dr Richard Shipway from the School of Tourism

Research / enterprise project of the year: Design Simulation Research Centre led by Professor Siamak Noroozi from the School of Design, Engineering & Computing

Congratulations to all staff involved! 😀

We will be featuring both of the award winners in future blog posts!

REF event 19 & 20 May 2011 – REGISTRATION IS OPEN!!

REF logoBU is hosting a two-day REF event on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 May 2011. All staff are invited to attend.

The event is of interest to BU academic staff and anyone who will be involved in the BU submission to the REF.

There will be three separate sessions:

Session 1
Thursday 19 May 9am-2pm
This session will be open to BU staff and external delegates.
There will be presentations from the REF team at HEFCE, REF impact pilot panel members, and a REF impact pilot institution (University of Plymouth).

Session 2
Thursday 19 May 2pm-5pm
This session is only open to BU staff.
This session will provide BU staff with the opportunity for internal networking, followed by a demonstration of BU’s new publications management system and a presentation on preparing a publication profile for the REF.

Session 3
Friday 20 May 9:45am-4:30pm
This session is only open to BU staff.
The focus of this session is the development of the BU impact case studies. There will be presentations of the impact case studies being developed at the moment.

All sessions will take place in Kimmeridge House and Poole House, Talbot Campus.

You must register separately for each session you will be attending.

See our previous REF Event blog post for further details. The provisional programmes are available on the registration forms (see links above).

iNets South West – Environmental (Bristol)

Environmental Technology Roadmap Initiative

Friday 13 May, 9am-4pm, Viridor Room, SS Great Britain, Bristol

What is a Technology Roadmap?

A Technology Roadmap is a plan that matches your short-term and long-term goals with specific technology solutions to help meet those goals. This plan applies to new products, processes, and emerging technologies. Developing a roadmap has three major benefits.

    • It helps reach a consensus about a set of needs and the technologies required to satisfy those needs
    • It provides a forum to help forecast technology developments in the sector
    • It provides a network to help plan and coordinate technology developments 

Who should attend?

Businesses who want to develop new products, processes, technologies or expertise in the following sectors:

  • Renewable Energy
  • Sustainable Transport
  • Waste Management
  • Sustainable Construction

Why should I attend?

Be part of an open innovation community and identify many opportunities for business growth
Opportunity to understand the technology needs of businesses in your sector group
Opportunity to acquire knowledge from local universities and establish a collaborative relationship
Develop on-going relationships with similar communities across the UK, Europe and beyond

Participate in collaborative Research and Development projects in the UK and Europe (possible funding)

This is a fantastic opportunity to be part of an ongoing business community where businesses can influence the universities and wider knowledge base on the technology required to drive the environmental industry forward.

Places are limited for this event, so register early to ensure your place by clicking here  

Missenden Centre research workshops

The Missenden Centre is running a series of workshops this year that may be of interest to BU academics and research support staff:

Successful Bidding: Day Clinic – 2 June 2011, London 

Bidding for Research Funding  for academic staff – 15/16 June 2011, Missenden Centre

Bidding for Research Funding for research support staff – 16/17 June 2011, Missenden Centre

The Missenden Centre courses are highly praised and well respected within the sector.

REF event 19 & 20 May 2011 – SAVE THE DATE!

REF logoBU will be holding a two day Research Excellence Framework (REF) event on 19 and 20 May to which all staff are invited to attend.

Day 1 (open to BU staff and external delegates)
9am-2pm – this will be an external event supported by HEFCE to which all HEIs in the South of England will be invited. The focus will be on developing and assessing impact for the REF. There will be speakers from HEFCE, an academic from one of the impact pilot institutions (University of Plymouth), and some of the impact pilot panel members. The event is aimed primarily at academics likely to be submitted to the REF and UOA Leaders. It will provide a forum for networking and discussion around preparations for the impact element of the REF.

Day 1 (open to BU staff only)
2pm-5pm – There will be an opportunity for internal networking, a demonstration of the publications management system BU will soon be implementing, and a talk by Prof Matthew Bennett on building a publication profile for the REF.

Day 2 (open to BU staff only)
9am-4:30pm – the focus of Day 2 is the development of the BU impact case studies. The day will open with a presentation by Prof Matthew Bennett on what impact actually is, followed by presentations of the impact case studies being developed at the moment (3 per Unit of Assessment). These will run in 9 concurrent sessions with 4 presentations taking place in parallel during each session. The main aims of Day 2 are to get academics thinking about the impact case studies in a structured way, to identify resource requirements to maximise potential impacts, and the engage staff from M&C with the case studies being developed. In addition this is a great opportunity to showcase the excellent research that is undertaken at BU, to meet colleagues from other Schools, and to stimulate ideas for future research collaborations.

The event is free to attend but booking is essential. Booking will open next week – further details to follow!