Sir Tim Wilson’s review of university-business collaboration highlighted that universities and businesses now face new imperatives to collaborate due to the climate of economic austerity and the Government’s reforms to Higher Education funding. HEFCE have endorsed the Review and the sector would do well to heed many of the recommendation and reflections.
The JISC Business and Community Engagement (BCE) programme has been helping institutions and groups within them to make their approaches to BCE more strategic and holistic, harnessing innovative web technologies and effective information management.
Taking relevant recommendations from the Wilson review, this post shows how the JISC BCE Programme has been making an impact in addressing many of the challenges and opportunities the Review emphasised, and provides links to further guidance for institutions on BCE.
Strategic partnerships and priorities
Professor Sir Tim Wilson recommends that “Both business and university leaders should reflect upon the management of the partnerships that they have …[and] strategic decisions concerning the domains that the university wishes to provide”.
The main purpose of the BCE programme is to support institutional management of strategic partnerships, harnessing ICT. In January 2012 JISC released a briefing paper summarising good practice guidance and links to resources for senior managers in institutions on “Maximising the Impact of Your Partnerships”.
The review warns: “Those universities that do not regularly review the effectiveness of their enquiry management systems may wish to undertake an audit to ensure efficient first-level responsiveness; an ineffective relationship management system carries significant reputational risk”…
Institutions wishing to follow up on this advice should consult JISC’s online Relationship Management Guide, which includes a Self-Analysis Framework for CRM (an online CRM Handbook is forthcoming in the summer). JISC has also recently published the Briefing Paper “Managing your Customers”, which links to JISC BCE’s Relationship Managementwork. Process improvement projects, resources and guidance from JISC in relationship management support institutions around their approach to Customer Relationship Management (CRM), service design and alumni engagement.
JISC is supporting a number of institutions to help them develop a more innovative relationships with alumni – including their role as mentors to enhance student employability – supported by web technologies in mutually beneficial alumni engagement, relevant for the recommendation: “The practice of business and alumni mentors supporting undergraduate students should be evaluated by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the conclusions disseminated throughout the university and appropriate business sectors”.
The review comments that “Collaboration between universities in supplying business needs can only benefit the university sector as a whole”.
Collaboration between universities (and colleges) is a requirement of the majority of JISC funded BCE projects (e.g. BCE Impact projects, or Access to Resources projects).
Local Enterprise Partnerships
The review observed that “LEPs [Local Enterprise Partnerships] have the potential to have a significant influence upon economic growth in their localities. Universities are key players in the supply chain for research, innovation and skills; they should be at the heart of an LEP. Government should work with the LEP network to understand local priorities and needs for government funding, including activities supporting generic business–university engagement. .”
We are currently supporting universities and colleges working with LEPs in our Open Innovation and Access to Resources projects (in fact this was a stipulation of Grant Call 14/11). For example, the Ingenuity Knowledge Hub project, a partnership between the Universities of Nottingham and Derby, is working with their local D2N2 LEP to meet one of its core objectives, to “meet employers’ current and future skill demands through our highly rated and ambitious education partners” through their JISC BCE Access to Resources project.
Further, in the Open Innovation strand, Hull College Group will oversee the development of a fully interactive Web 2.0 platform in order to stimulate innovation and information sharing between educational institutions, the Humber Business Community and the Humber LEP by channelling the flow of key governmental guidance on economic issues to facilitate co-development and innovation opportunities.
Following a successful first phase of eight Access to Resources and Open Innovation projects, and a feasibility study on Facilitating Open Innovation, a second phase of 11 projects has just been launched. These 19 projects contribute to meeting the expectation raised in the review that “The TSB…establish a boundary-scanning capability with intelligent brokering to facilitate innovation…..open innovation projects exposing existing research information on challenge areas, providing a valuable resource for business.” In the latest phase of Open Innovation funding, the Open LivIN project intends to develop Open Liverpool Innovation Network, a city region-wide innovation market-place that connects business and university innovators to maximise exploitation of IP and innovations. Integration is at the core of the project, in particular a direct link to the Technology Strategy Board’s _Connect platform. The JISC BCE Call 14/11 encouraged bidding institutions to link to the _Connect platform and utilise other suitable platforms for open innovation, such as Venture Navigator in the Encapsulate project collaboration between the Universities of Essex and Glasgow.
Using JISC good practice resources to support strategic change
JISC BCE continues to provide good practice for institutions, addressing key challenges, to help them develop their capabilities to engage productively and strategically with external parties, harnessing ICT opportunities. A number of Transformations programme projects are perhaps the best example of this – previously developed and ‘road-tested’ JISC resources (e.g. Embedding BCE, Collaborative Online Tools for BCE) are being utilised by institutions to support and develop strategic change and in Strand C, organisational capability for BCE, for example Wi4WBL at University of Wolverhampton and Virtual Business Engagement at Teesside University.