In the current economic climate, having strong partnerships can be the key to an organisation’s survival. The University of Wolverhampton places links with businesses at the centre of its mission, and success in this area has led to a number of accolades at the prestigious Lord Stafford Awards.
Universities offer a wealth of resources and information to nurture students in their academic careers. But in recent years, the role of higher education institutions has evolved to increasingly encompass business activity and enterprise. One of the key areas of success in creating links with organisations in the public and private sector is Knowledge Transfer Programmes (KTPs), which enable businesses to benefit from the skills of a high calibre graduate (see page 25). The University of Wolverhampton is consistently one of the top higher education institutions in the country for KTP activity – and this achievement was recently recognised at the Lord Stafford Awards.
The University has a history of success at the prestigious annual awards, which recognise and encourage the development of collaborative relationships between West Midlands businesses and universities. This year, Dr Alan Collins, Director of Business Development and Enterprise, was presented with a Special Award for Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Transfer Activities. Dr Collins has played a pivotal role in securing £50 million for nearly 50 Knowledge Transfer Partnerships in his time at the University.
The results speak for themselves – the programmes have benefited around 5,000 businesses, safeguarded more than 8,000 jobs and generated sales worth more than £200 million. Dr Collins paid tribute to the hard work of his colleagues at the University’s Competitiveness Centre, which delivers and manages all business activity and offers a central contact point for all services to external organisations.
“I was delighted to receive the award. It is a testament to the support I have received not only from my staff within the Competitiveness Centre but from the many others throughout the University of Wolverhampton and our partner organisations who contributed to the knowledge transfer activities.”
Award patron Lord Stafford described Dr Collins’ work to bridge the gap between universities and businesses as ‘inspirational’, highlighting the innovative work of the Director and the University. Two companies the University has worked with were also shortlisted for awards and received certificates of commendation from Lord Stafford. The companies were Six and Out Ltd for a smoking cessation device, and MDTI Ltd for its Hoo-kOn portable IV stand.
This year’s success follows other recent achievements at the Lord Stafford Awards. In 2007, the University of Wolverhampton won two out of the four awards. Rachel Westwood of SkinScientists Ltd. won the ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit Award’ for her innovative brand of ‘cosmeceuticals’ especially formulated for men. Robert Harris, Principal Lecturer for Corporate Programmes at the University of Wolverhampton Business School, won the ‘West Midlands Knowledge Transfer Champion Award’ for his contribution to knowledge transfer activities between the University and companies in the West Midlands.
This followed two awards at the 2006 ceremony. Teardrop Technologies from Wolverhampton won the ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit Award’ for their innovative sports equipment. Amongst other things, the company has designed cricket batting gloves and pads with an innovative design for wicket keepers. The Managing Director of the company, John Wood, was a graduate of the University. Another company, GSF Ltd, won the ‘Achievement in Innovation Award’ for its slide and tilt mechanism which is used in fire and rescue vehicles. This aims to increase their load carrying capabilities and ease access to equipment.
The variety of the projects that have been recognised at the Lord Stafford Awards illustrates the wide reach and possibilities of knowledge transfer. The University of Wolverhampton strives for excellence in this area and is continuing to build on its regional and national reputation for success in innovative business collaborations.