Although large companies usually have structured relationships with preferred universities, SMEs often struggle to know what sort of university to approach and how to go about doing so. From the point of view of universities, although each has enterprise portals, many of the relationships between academia and industry are still informal. They are between academics and people they meet or know socially and so the research often comes in opportunistically and proceeds sporadically in consequence.
Datchet Consulting can structure such requirements and identify systematic ways of engaging with universities, as well as helping to set realistic expectations of costs and returns.
New models of delivering education and training, together with initiatives such as the apprenticeship scheme mean that SMEs can develop their staff and see them graduate with high calibre qualifications in a way that was impractical even a decade ago.
On the other hand, universities are often open to providing bespoke models, provided there is a way to specify what is needed – perhaps offering credits or qualifications on successful completion.
Datchet Consulting provides a helpful interface between the industrial requirement and the academic capacity and will support companies in forging their training strategy.
Senior staff in companies often find themselves wanting to give back to society by training the next generation. Again Datchet Consulting can support such initiatives in framing the nature of the offering towards a successful collaboration, since access to applied business thinking is a great asset on many degree courses.
Research and Enterprise
There are three main ways in which universities can deploy their resources in collaborating with industry. In each case, working through the University’s Research or Technology Transfer offices provides a reliable means of defining the scope of funding, the IP rights and other aspects of a framework critical to sustainable success.
The three routes to research and enterprise activity are:
- Student projects. This underused resource – especially undergraduate projects – takes care to set up, since ethics and even remuneration or prizes need to be agreed in advance. However, good applied projects can represent a win for all parties: students pick up an invaluable perspective and some domain knowledge (and may be remunerated in some way); supervising staff forge a relationship that can lead to a larger research project; and the industrial sponsor receives a report at much lower cost that internal or other options.
- Research programmes. There are a wealth of opportunities from directly sponsored research, to research proposals which must be industrially led (e.g. Innovate UK), to European collaborations are (still) an important part of the scene. In-kind collaborations can also provide access to results even if the companies is not directly funded.
- Consultancy. Once one knows what is needed and if one can identify an academic expert, consultancy is a fast way of getting information. It is critical for the industrial partner to know whether the consultancy is approved by the department concerned, or whether the academic is doing it on the side (which can create IP problems afterwards).
Datchet Consulting has experience in all three and is well placed to help companies forge their strategy, specify their requirements, identify suitable partners and establish measures for evaluating the success of the collaboration as it proceeds.
Read our founder’s statement.
Datchet Consulting undertook a short study for Beautiful Information on the development of a framework and assessment tool for boards of healthcare organisations. It aimed to evaluate the governance of information literacy and analytic capability.
The resulting framework built on three sources: a published analysis of the shortcoming of healthcare analytics in the UK, a widely used educational taxonomy around learning, and fieldwork that Beautiful Information had already undertaken. From this, a 9-section question set was written to probe systematically the board’s ability to assess each critical part of the service – from the overall service delivery, to detailed assessment of how data was used to inform decisions. It linked the board’s self-assessment to its CQC evaluation and addressed issues of compliance, finance and regulation, as well as service operations and planning.
The outcome was a pair of on-line questionnaires: one for boards, one focused on analytics. The web interface can be expanded to accommodate further drill-down assessments and will eventually connect to support service, seminars and development activities.