The UK’s national strength is research and innovation, which is central to our well-being, prosperity and economy. Success rests on the Government, businesses, universities, and others working collaboratively together to create the best possible environment for growth. Yet the inaccessibility of research teams is a key factor holding back university-business collaboration.
In a recent report published by NCUB on the modes and motivations of business collaborations with universities, almost half of the 4k+ businesses surveyed said that difficulty in identifying a partner was an important constraint to their interactions with universities.
A central question for many universities and policymakers is: how can the UK science base be more responsive to business needs?
We can start with the dynamic presentation and easy access to latest research and expertise. Simplifying access to innovation opportunities and potential partners will increase collaboration with universities that is central to the UK vision of being a global hub for innovation by 2035.
To do this, NCUB developed konfer, a smart brokerage tool that helps businesses and universities connect. konfer gives both businesses and university teams an open front door to experts and opportunities that might otherwise be difficult to find.
To date, konfer has successfully drawn on publicly available data. But now, for the first time, konfer has started to expand to include data supplied directly by universities. City, University of London is the first UK university to improve representation of their expertise and capability through the supply of their data directly to konfer.
Dr Joe Marshall, NCUB CEO said ‘Closer integration through City’s data is powering innovation, by giving near real time access to their expertise and latest research for business and innovators. Ultimately it is these experts and their research that will make a difference when it comes to levelling up and driving economic growth through research and innovation.’
This has improved visibility of City’s experts by a factor of 30 – profiled academics grew from 23 to 678, and now includes more than 11,000 research publications.
Direct data feeds offer a more efficient use of the capability and brilliance in UK universities. Konfer currently captures a host of university and business data from a number of sources, including more than 150 different university websites. The direct integration of university expertise and research, has improved visibility, and crucially even easier access for potential innovation collaborators.
Ian Gibbs, Head of Academic Enterprise, at City, University of London said ‘Having a complete picture of our experts and research will support new and existing collaboration partners to find and connect with academic staff and research centres across the university. It shows the innovation community, at home and abroad, our relevant and latest expertise. We are also using konfer internally to connect academic teams to support interdisciplinary collaboration.’
‘We recognise the importance of real easy access for business and innovators, which is why we have embedded konfer in our business innovation strategy. The direct supply of our academic data will ensure we engage more nimbly with business opportunities by matching our experts with relevant opportunities. This will create better engagement with business and aid understanding in the relevance of our own skill base. We are also using konfer internally to connect academic teams to support interdisciplinary collaboration.’
The integration of City, University of London’s data is the first time a UK university internal data repository has been made available, and fully searchable, to an eternal audience with an added simple connect function. This is a powerful resource to support truly open innovation.
Konfer makes it easier for businesses and universities to find each other and ultimately form meaningful and productive innovation partnerships. It enables the creation of new coalitions of experts who work together on research and development projects that address the major social, technological, economic, and environmental challenges of our time.