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CBI - Best of both worlds - in action

Examples of business and universities working together to share skills, research and innovation. Read more about this, including the full report, here 

Arup and Middlesex University

Arup’s Master’s Module programme has involved developing a number of MSc courses with universities in areas of top business priority for staff development. Long-term relationships with universities help the business to target the right sources of expertise. A cohort of 22 Arup staff currently make up a cohort on the Middlesex University Postgraduate Certificate in Building Information Modelling Management. 

This programme is new to the University and was developed in consultation with Arup to meet the business’s needs. Teaching is delivered via distance learning, through virtual tutorials and lectures weekly, with an additional Arup workshop and checkin points to ensure maximum transfer of academic learning. Arup employees are able to apply their learning to ‘live’ project work as they go. Students are highly motivated to achieve an externally recognised qualification, and Arup’s capability is built in an area of strategic importance to the business globally.

Catharine Carew Hunt, Masters Modules, Arup University

“We collaborate with academics to design postgraduate learning which will challenge Arup staff, allowing them to step outside of their day job and explore a topic in more depth or gain breadth
of knowledge from leading thinkers.”

Wedge Group and the University of Sheffield 

B. E. Wedge Holdings Ltd, a group of leading galvanizing businesses based in the West Midlands with a growing international presence, has completed two Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) projects with Sheffield University, both related to combustion engineering. One of them was awarded the highest possible accreditation of ‘Outstanding’ by the independent KTP assessment panel. 

The company has recently begun a third KTP. The work concerns the advanced technology which underpins the market leadership of its subsidiary Hasco Thermic in the specialized field of galvanizing furnace design.

Angela Curtis, Managing Director, Hasco Thermic

“The results of the investigations undertaken in partnership with the University, which is a world leader in this field, have been instrumental in advancing thinking on improving the performance and energy efficiency of the company’s products. In addition to the KTP’s direct benefit to us, we perceive great value in the opportunity to work closely with the experts in Sheffield because it encourages us to think even more widely and perceive further possibilities of advancement. We are great supporters of KTPs.”

P&G and Durham University

Procter & Gamble (P&G) have ‘master collaboration agreements’ (MCAs) with global strategic academic partners including Durham University. Under this agreement P&G have been able to apply the capability and expertise of the University to projects simultaneously. Of particular interest has been Durham’s expertise in biology, astronomy, chemistry and physics to solve technical challenges people face in their home.

Novel optical techniques, normally used in biological and astronomical imaging, have been applied to provide a detailed analysis of the process of grease removal and laid the basis for development of a new enzyme. This new enzyme has now been patented and is being used for removing fats, such as butter, in cold water washing. About 100 Durham students and faculty and P&G employees have worked together to build integrated teams of researchers. Through P&G’s financial commitment Durham has been able to attract additional funding.

Seagate and Queens University Belfast

Seagate Technology, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of hard disc drives, employs over 1,300 people at its Springtown facility in Northern Ireland where it produces read/write heads
and conducts R&D. In 2010 Seagate provided £7.5m worth of state of the art equipment to Queen’s University, Belfast, to help set up ANSIN, a centre within the university, together with business development funding and support for a £1.7m collaborative research project.

The main objectives were: for ANSIN to act as a hub for future collaboration with Seagate’s R&D; and for the centre to develop further non-competitive collaborations in areas outside data storage and so build activity on advanced materials with wider reach and aligned with Seagate’s broader interests. Benefits for both sides have included opportunities to influence and benefit from European research funding streams, and the establishment of a Centre for Doctoral Training with support from EPSRC and the Department for Employment and Learning of Northern Ireland together with Seagate and other industry partners. An additional benefit for Seagate and the wider society is support for the university as a source of highly educated, relevant and employable PhDs in science and technology. 

Brendan Lafferty, R&D Director, Seagate Technology

“Seagate Technology believe that interactions with our academic partners provide a fantastic mechanism to develop the technological breakthroughs and skilled staff required to undertake research that could contribute towards our next generation products.”

Jaguar Land Rover

Jaguar Land Rover’s Technical Accreditation Scheme (TAS) brings together eight universities to deliver skills development in specific key technical disciplines which are needed to support future product strategy and low-carbon technologies. The scheme’s modular structure offers flexibility and
convenience by enabling employees to mix and match modules according to their needs within the business, as well as their individual and professional development needs.

Over 70 Master’s level accredited modules are offered, which can all be taken separately and combined to qualify for an MSc from one of the partner universities. Modules typically carry 15 credits each, equivalent to 150 hours of study, with 180 credits being required for an MSc. Since the scheme was launched in 2010 over 50 per cent of Jaguar Land Rover’s R&D engineers have undertaken TAS modules, equating to over half a million hours of Master’s level learning. 

Jo Lopes, Head of Technical Excellence, Jaguar Land Rover

“This is a significant investment by the business in not only monetary cost but time out of the office and private study by the individual, but the return on investment is huge, with the programme paying for itself twice over in money and in time saved.”


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