Collaboration paves the way for new successes
25 March 2013
In our globally competitive economic environment, never before has there been a greater need for a talented, enterprising workforce, for constant innovation in product and service development, for a thriving culture of entrepreneurship, for dynamic leading‐edge scientific and technological development and for world‐class research that attracts investment. Universities and colleges are an integral part of the skills and innovation supply chain to business. This transfer of knowledge from academia to business can only become more important in the future than it is now.
Connected, the knowledge connection for business, funded by the Department for Employment and Learning has project staff across Queen’s University, University of Ulster and all six regional Further Education colleges. Connected has achieved exemplar programmes of collaboration between our Higher Education and Further Education sectors with industry, particularly for businesses that have not previously worked with academia before.
Lynn Connaughton Connected Business Development Manager commented:
“Connected is a brilliant concept that has proven to be an enormous success, both in raising the agenda of knowledge transfer and also cementing productive relationships between business and academia. Simply put, Connected works on the concept that academics have the knowledge, knowhow, skills and facilities useful to people running businesses and a transfer of this knowledge to business can help both the business and our economy. Additionally, knowledge transfer offers our academia the opportunity to work with people out there in industry and the wider community. Connected has a successful track record in kick-starting many successful introductions. In the last nine months alone the project has worked with 78 companies, 53 or which have no previous experience of collaborating with a college or university. Many of these introductions may lead to follow on work. They are a key part of any strategy to open the eyes of business to the opportunities that collaboration and innovation provides and building within business collaborative and competitive advantage”
Northern Hydraulics Ltd, based at Coalisland, is one such company that has benefited from collaborating from Queen’s University. The company manufactures high quality precision cylinders for use in all types of hydraulic equipment. Following a visit to the company from the Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) at Queen’s, the company expounded on a concept to change the method of construction and assembly for the hydraulic cylinders. The company needed assurances however that the proposed changes would continue to meet the strength and quality standards of the company and the industry. Funded by an Innovation Voucher from Invest Northern Ireland, engineers from NI Technology Centre at Queen’s University undertook the project.
“I was very impressed with the positive attitude and enthusiasm of the staff at the Technology Centre. The work they carried out in the project will most certainly result in the implementation of new construction methods for our hydraulic cylinders. The benefit to the company will be a significant saving in money”
Seamus Morris, Northern Hydraulics Ltd
Gerry Campbell Chief Executive of Colleges Northern Ireland commented:
“Our local government recognise Knowledge Transfer as a key ingredient for economic growth and the concept of collaboration is now strongly embedded across our universities and colleges. However, there is still work to be done, especially with small businesses who without the support of programmes like Connected, don’t have the resource to take forward knowledge transfer opportunities. It is important that programmes such as Connected continue to be supported in helping nurture collaborative projects and help turn ideas into tangible results.”
For more information on engaging with our colleges and or universities contact Connected Business Development Manager: Lynn Connaughton Tel: 028 9068 4955
What is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer is about exchanging good ideas, research results, experiences and skills between universities and colleges, business, government and the wider community. This enables innovative new products, services, processes and policies to be developed. Knowledge transfer is now widely recognised as a key component for economic development.
Universities and colleges are not just places that produce skilled graduates; they also provide a vast diversity of expertise. The sharing of expertise and resources can prove mutually beneficial to companies and the further and higher education sectors.
Northern Ireland’s universities and colleges are home to a growing wealth of knowledge, which can benefit the Northern Ireland business community and the community at large.