Alliance Manchester Business School - AMBS
Article By
Richard Allmendinger

Richard Allmendinger

Professor of Applied Artificial Intelligence at AMBS, and Faculty Associate Dean for Business Engagement, Civic and Cultural Partnerships

Engaging with Business

Developing further understanding of business engagement and knowledge exchange.

Richard Allmendinger explains the rationale for a new Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange strategy across the Faculty of Humanities.

A new strategy

In recent years we have seen a consistent and demonstrable increase in business engagement and knowledge transfer activities across the faculty, leading to a growth and diversification in external income streams, knowledge exchange and impact. This has resulted in many joint research and knowledge exchange projects which, in turn, have led to sizeable research grants and contracts.

Indeed, we are increasingly seeing research funding calls that require or encourage multi-disciplinary collaborations and academic-business partnerships, so the funding environment is also driving motivation for collaborations with non-academic partners. This aligns with our increasing emphasis on turning research outputs into tangible impact.

In summary, there is a growing awareness of the opportunities for engagement and collaboration with non-academic partners and this is also reflected in increased attendance at our workshops, enquiries to our team, and bids for dedicated knowledge exchange funding such as Knowledge Transfer Projects, CASE studentships, and collaborative research programmes.

Key aims of the strategy

We want to further develop both awareness and understanding of Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange (BEKE) within our academic community, linking BEKE to current and future work on impact, social responsibility, and public engagement in research and teaching.

We also want to increase joint initiatives across disciplines, schools, and faculties, and to identify, understand, and address existing and emerging barriers faced by colleagues to BEKE engagement.

As well as building and developing existing external partnerships we also want to create new ones, focusing too on civic and cultural partnerships, and on engagement with organisations based outside of the UK.

We also want to engage more with postgraduate and early career researchers, increasing awareness and opportunities for engagement via educational programmes.

Key priorities over the coming year

One of our key goals is to support the delivery of several Innovation Labs and showcases to demonstrate our research expertise, expand networks, and build foundations for follow-on activities with external partners.

We also want to broaden the pool of academics engaging with external partners, increase the number of Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA) applications, and submit more Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) applications over the year.

At the same time it is important that all our activities feed into University of Manchester strategic priorities such as impact creation, social responsibility, ID Manchester, internationalisation, and commercialisation opportunities.

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Barriers to developing BEKE

The biggest issue is the lack of awareness of the nature and scope of BEKE, or diversity of potential funding and engagement mechanisms, and this is something we are really keen to address.

It is also important to remember that we are not on a mission to get everyone involved in this agenda. If we get people to think about it regularly and understand what support is available in case the opportunity arises for engagement with external partner(s) to inform future research or provide routes to application and impact, then we have made good progress.

How the team engages with SMEs

It is worth mentioning our Scale-Up Forum which offers networking and peer learning opportunities and includes a range of industry speakers from high growth businesses.

We will also continue to expand relationships with University of Manchester strategy partners and key business support organisations such as MIDAS, the Business Growth Company, Pro-Manchester, Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Bruntwood, Manchester Digital, Enterprise Exchange, Sci-Tech Daresbury, and Alderley Park.

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