Today, as part of the Research Capability Development Programme in the Institute for Manufacturing, Paul Christodoulou (www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/people/pac46/) drew upon his industrial background and IfM ECS experience to describe some history and ideas for crafting relationships and project portfolios for researchers collaborating with industry.
At the core of his thinking is the idea of a portfolio of work with industrial collaborators that ranges through
- Early stage research exploring emerging concepts and technologies, typically the domain of PhDs
- Collaborative research, exploring applications and developing insights as theory is put into practice
- Applications work, much closer to consultancy focused on solving specific problems.
Paul discussed the way in which research topics evolve as the domain matures. Some areas, especially those around strategic decision-making, are amenable to developing tool kits and ‘productising’ to enable them to be scaled up and rolled out. Indeed, this is the domain in which ECS has worked successfully for some time in bringing research insights to industrial application.
He described the importance of providing ‘opinion-leading’ insights as a showcase for competence and how well this has worked in generating enquiries from industry for collaboration, often leading to long-term relationships. One example of this approach is “Making the right things in the right places” – (www.ifm.eng.cam.ac.uk/uploads/Resources/Reports/footprint_strategy.pdf)
Interesting discussions included the way in which a portfolio of options for industrial engagement can be marshalled, the importance of maintaining clarity about what is to be delivered, and the differences between research and consultancy.
With this compelling title, Philip Guildford, Director of Research for the Engineering Department shared his thoughts with an audience of 44, drawn from Engineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotech, the Computer Labs, Education, Cambridge Enterprise and even two visitors from the University of Technology, Malaysia.
The Q&A discussion revolved around how to present to industrial sponsors the uncertainties of research as distinct from the relative certainties of consultancy – what is the proposition and what do they get for their money? Other topics included building multidisciplinary teams and working in areas outside your own, managing the risks of introducing colleagues into relationships with valued sponsor, and a debate about the IP decision faced by industrial partners: do we need to decide to own it all before the work starts, or should we wait until we can see what’s there before deciding what we’d like to own or license?
This workshop was run on 9th May, another in the continuing series of workshops to help researchers maximise their impact through the “Inspiring Research through Industrial Collaboration” Theme, which is led by Tim Minshall and Rob Miller. If you would like to be on the mailing list for future talks in this series please contact Charles Boulton (firstname.lastname@example.org). Further information on the theme can be foundat www.engineerimpact.info or by following twitter.com/engineerimpact.
Do you understand the potential for social media to support your research – both its conduct and its dissemination?
Would you like to learn how to make better use of social media in building a community of interest and in disseminating your research?
We are running a focused and hands-on workshop to help people who are interested in making better use of social media.
The workshop will be Monday 3rd June, 12:00 – 17:00
It will be led by Rob Halden-Pratt who brings experience not only of social media but also of marketing academic research, having worked with IfM in the recent past.
Because this will be a small and focused working session numbers are limited and we’d like to work primarily with people able to pick up and use the insights from the workshop quickly. If you’d like to attend could you please contact Charles Boulton (email@example.com).
If you can’t make the date, but think that somebody else in your research area could usefully attend the workshop and then take a lead in using social media with you and your colleagues then please encourage them to apply to come along (and feel free to send Charles an email supporting their involvement).
Might you be interested in developing your skills and capacity for entrepreneurial behaviour? Not necessarily launching a business – but learning to recognise opportunities and respond creatively, making best use of teamwork with others to build financially robust initiatives and then pitch them in ways that are compelling.
Orsolya Ihasz presented the Enterprisers programme (www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/enterprisers/) to an audience of PhDs and early stage researchers as part of the CUED “Inspiring research through Industrial Collaboration” Theme.
The programme is designed to help inspire and develop entrepreneurial behaviour – whether you work within an organisation or perhaps wish build a new venture, and is strongly experiential. Its main purpose is to develop entrepreneurial awareness and to nurture entrepreneurial skills and confidence.
The skills it nurtures (Engagement, influence and impact; knowledge and intellectual ability; personal effectiveness) map across as the ‘enterprise equivalent’ of the Researcher Development Framework to be found at Vitae (www.vitae.ac.uk/CMS/files/upload/Vitae-Researcher-Development-Framework.pdf).
For those who do wish to build a business, the Enterprisers programme is just part of a portfolio of programmes that include ETECH (www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/etech ) and Ignite (www.cfel.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/ignite/) that provide support along the journey.
Because the Enterprisers programme is embedded within the Cambridge ecosystem, itself a hotbed of entrepreneurial behaviour and opportunities, participation opens up lots of chances to meet with like-minded people, with successful entrepreneurs and with funders and helpers.
The annual 4-day residential programme involves 48 participants, 12 facilitators and 2 lead facilitators and has over 150 alumni. Applications for the (oversubscribed) May running of the programme close on April 22.
If you would like to be on the mailing list for future talks in this series please contact Charles Boulton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I wonder whether there’s a market for the results of my research? Or perhaps an industrial partner interested in helping? What would I need to do to bring this to market? What would customers need before they’d buy?
If you have these questions, then maybe an i-Teams project has the answer.
On 6th March, in another in the Engineering Department’s series of workshops to help researchers maximise their impact, Amy Mokady, the Programme Manager for i-Teams (www.iteamsonline.org/) described how i-Teams work and the sorts of questions they can answer.
An i-Team consists of about six postdocs or PhDs, typically from science and technology backgrounds, guided by an experienced mentor, often an entrepreneur or technology consultant and they look for the application possibilities and markets for the technologies and products of research. The i-Teams programme runs three projects a term for each term.
Amy emphasised key points about i-Teams projects:
- These aren’t desk research projects – the teams get out and talk to real potential customers (sometimes they even make a sale).
- Researchers find out not only the potential of their current work, but also what needs to be done to make the end product attractive.
- Sometimes the teams find whole new application areas – maybe with greater potential than other more obvious markets. Sometimes they find markets that can act as ‘stepping stones’ to success.
- The teams will need to work up good ways to describe the research and its potential in order to do their project – and this really helps a researcher to see a good way of presenting their work
- The best projects are those where the researchers work closely with the i-Team, sharing insights and lessons as the project unfolds.
So, if you think you might have a project or you’d like help answering those important questions about what customers really want then get in touch with Amy (email@example.com).
If you would like to be on the mailing list for future talks in this series please contact Charles Boulton (firstname.lastname@example.org). Or have a look at ‘talks with impact’ for the next in the series – talks.cam.ac.uk/show/index/42183. Further information on the Engineering Department’s theme on ‘Inspiring research through industrial collaboration’ can be found at www.engineerimpact.info or by following twitter.com/engineerimpact.
Why is it that some events run smoothly, with flair and a ‘buzz’ in the air? And others stagger from crisis to crisis – which, even if not visible to the audience, takes a toll on the organisers?
Jo Griffiths, event organiser with Education and Consultancy Services Ltd (ECS) drew upon her two decades of event experience to share lessons with an audience of about 25 people from across the School of Technology on 7th February. This was part of a continuing series of informal talks sharing pragmatic good practice in getting research understood and adopted as soon and as widely as possible.
Blindingly obvious, but not always defined and agreed, is the starting point – why are you holding the event at all? Who do you need to be there? And with this clearly in mind you can begin to design the event to appeal to that chosen audience and to deliver that chosen purpose.
Jo described they key considerations in designing the event – choosing a venue that supports the audience’s expectations, with the all-important service element as well as facilities. She showed some outline planning templates and described key decision points, described how to manage publicity and invitations – and emphasised the importance of quality and consistency to support the University’s brand image (and that of the organiser).
One idea for checking your plans for an event really caught the imagination of the audience – why not do an imagined ‘walk-through’ of the participants’ experience of the event? What do they see when they first arrive? Who greets them? Where? And what do they do next?
Finally Jo described some of the ways in which you might make your event that little bit different to give it a freshness and liveliness for participants. Simple things like varying the selection of biscuits during the day through to more exotic ideas – falconry, anyone, as part of an ‘English theme’?
Jo and her team from Education and Consultancy Services can provide advice and guidance, or they can manage the whole event for you, covering design, marketing and publicity, invitations and management on the day. Give them a call.
If you would like to be on the mailing list for future talks in this series please contact Charles Boulton (email@example.com). Further information on the Engineering Department’s theme on ‘Inspiring research through industrial collaboration’ can be found at www.engineerimpact.info or by following twitter.com/engineerimpact.
So how might you get people to adopt your research? You might run seminars and conferences, perhaps develop educational materials, training courses, maybe even workbooks and manuals. Perhaps you might consult based on your work and would like to see that codified and scaled up with a bigger team? Maybe a new venture? All these and more were described when Peter Templeton of Education and Consultancy Services Ltd (ECS) presented to the first workshop of 2013 and the sixth in the series within the Engineering Department’s theme on ‘Inspiring Research through Industrial Collaboration‘, funded via the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).
ECS has, for over a decade, provided professional events management; design, publicity, enrolment, and management. They help researchers to design professional-looking brochures, guides and books and provide publication services. They support researchers to codify their materials and teach a wide range of open and company-specific educational programmes. ECS has a network of associates experienced in consulting to governments, large and small companies. Researchers can guide teams of associates in the delivery of bigger assignments, and gather pragmatic ideas for future research directions, without getting distracted from their core research activities. Many have worked through ECS to get their ideas and insights embedded and in practice across a range of industry sectors. ECS has long provided mentoring and strategy to start-ups and recently, through ideaSpace fold these and accommodation services into a superb environment for early stage ventures.
ECS is now broadening its remit across the whole Engineering Department and Peter described some of the ways in which ECS may be able to help through the entire research cycle, all the way from pre-proposal through the research to final dissemination. But ECS is always on the lookout for new and better ways to help – so if you have any ideas Peter Templeton would like to hear from you.
If you would like to be on the mailing list for future workshops in this series please contact Charles Boulton (firstname.lastname@example.org). Further information on the Engineering Department’s theme on ‘Inspiring research through industrial collaboration’ can be found at www.engineerimpact.info or by following twitter.com/engineerimpact.