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Harnessing the power of collaboration through dynamic workshops 

konfer collaboration clinics support universities in their search for external innovation partners. 

konfer brokers connections between businesses and universities to facilitate collaboration and innovation on specific opportunities and challenges. To support activity in the UK innovation eco-system and to grow the konfer network, the team piloted collaboration clinics with NCUB member universities.   

A member benefit for NCUB universities, the collaboration clinics aim to:  

  • raise awareness of konfer amongst academic and support staff  

  • increase the number of collaboration call posts and responses 

  • lead to more R&D projects 

Becky Moore, Business Engagement Officer at Plymouth said “The clinics explored how we can get the best from konfer.  The follow-up and additional support from the konfer team exceeded our expectations. The case studies highlighting how others have successfully used konfer were really helpful, and the 1:1 conversations to help shape collaboration proposals have been very useful. We trialed face-to-face and online sessions and achieved a greater reach of attendees with the online sessions. Since the clinics, we have seen a 100% increase in the number of academics registered on konfer. Getting our staff on board and engaging with collaboration calls has led to some really positive conversations.  We look forward to getting more R&D projects off the ground as a result”.   

The clinics are intensive workshops, led by konfer, to support universities search for external innovation partners. These sessions drill down on the ingredients of an effective collaboration call – from konfer’s experience of running nearly 1500 calls and monitoring responses.  It covers ‘the four questions’ an effective collaboration call should seek to answer and includes topics such as communicating with a business audience, a ‘how to’ demo on use of konfer, an exploration of individual research interests and the types of business that might find value in collaborating with them.   

The Researcher Development Programme at the University of Plymouth offers a wide range of sessions to develop and broaden research and transferable skills, for postgraduate research students and staff. The programme provides opportunities to develop and refine skills, to support both research and career planning and progression.  The konfer team delivered collaboration clinics across three different faculties specifically targeting Early Career Researchers (ECRs), through the Researcher  Development Programme, and a further two clinics with more established academics as well as ECRs. This added benefit brought more experience into the room,  providing mentoring opportunities, and greater connections within the university.  

Becky said: "Over the next year the University of Plymouth aims to utilise konfer to post calls for student innovation projects and also tie in some of our own funding opportunities, such as the R&D Solutions Fund, as well as promoting some key initiatives such as our new Net Zero Exchange".  

Ahead of the clinics at City, University of London, Ian Gibbs, Head of Academic Enterprise asked ‘who’ within the university might need to collaborate with external partners. In the clinics the challenge of finding suitable companies for student placement projects was shared. Together City and konfer honed the calls to specific innovation areas complementing the student's studies, and matched with specific types of business. City have seen some great results including a placement for a robotics students who helped SME i3D robotics. This inspired other UK universities, including UCL Business School and the University of Bristol to use konfer to reach beyond their usual networks to find businesses with real innovation challenges for post-graduate student placements. 

If you would like more information on konfer can support your search for innovation partners, please get in touch.




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