Consultancy – a great way to innovate
- Published: Thursday, 02 July 2020 10:41
- Written by Kathryn Burchell
By Kathryn Burchell, Head of Partnership Development, Loughborough University
The National Centre for Universities and Business has long made a strong case for university-business partnerships, highlighting the positive impact they have on the economy – boosting productivity, innovation and workforce skills.
Businesses can collaborate with universities in a variety of ways, spanning a few hours’ expert advice, specialist teams working on long-term projects and access to world-class R&D facilities.
A Consultancy project provides an excellent opportunity for businesses to access specialist knowledge for a specific timeframe, supporting innovation whilst greatly reducing the cost and risk of R&D by unlocking skills and expertise through collaboration.
Over the years, our academics at Loughborough University have engaged in a range of consultancy projects, each addressing a specific problem brought to us by the partner organisation. These have included:
- specialist problem solving
- advising on technology or process development
- analysis of a product or material
- expert witness testimony
- joining an advisory board
- development of a commercial product
- bespoke short courses
Professor John Mardaljevic – based in our School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering – has worked in a consultancy capacity with a range of organisations over the years and his innovative research – measuring and modelling daylight – has wide reaching impact.
He has helped the National Trust to better understand how to naturally illuminate its collections whilst minimising light damage. His findings underpin revisions to its Daylight Management Guide, helping protect invaluable heritage artefacts.
In partnership with the Environmental Simulation Centre (New York), Professor Mardaljevic used climate-based daylight modelling (CBDM) to predict the potential daylight injury that Central Park Tower would inflict on the historic Art Students League of New York Building. The findings formed part of the legal agreement for the Tower’s development – the first such application of CBDM in the world.
Meanwhile, his daylight modelling and metrics research formed the basis of the Education Funding Agency’s decision to make evaluation of school designs with CBDM a mandatory requirement – spanning construction programmes with a value in excess of £15 billion. This major development is a recognition of the importance of natural daylight on pupils’ productivity, health and wellbeing.
Access state-of-the-art facilities
As well as providing bought-in expertise, consultancy projects allow companies to utilise state-of-the-art facilities and equipment they may not have access to in-house. This can offer a step change in how the business innovates and lead to a significant competitive advantage.
Loughborough has specialist laboratories and workshops that support the cutting-edge work of our researchers as well as that of our partners.
For example, the Loughborough Materials Characterisation Centre (LMCC) offers a range of analytical services tailored to each client’s requirements.
The Centre is home to £6 million of equipment which can be used to characterise metals, ceramics and polymers, and the facilities are managed by a team of specialists who have a wealth of experience in conducting consultancy projects.
A range of organisations have worked with the LMCC, including 3M. Phil Jinks, Senior Research Specialist at the company, says: “I have used the LMCC facilities for many years. The service provided is excellent in terms of equipment, speed of sample turnaround, and the flexibility and expertise of their staff. Data provided has been critical to the success of our projects and I am most grateful for such a rich and highly effective collaboration.”
First-class project support
Our consultancy projects are led by our academic experts and proactively managed by our Consultancy Team who take care of the contract negotiation, project management and administration.
This means that the experts can focus on the work in hand and leave the practicalities to an experienced and dedicated project manager.
Building trust and long-term partnerships
We’ve found that collaboration through consultancy often leads to greater opportunities to work together. Indeed, some of our longest ongoing partnerships started as short-term consultancies.
Successful projects develop mutual trust and often highlight other ways the University can support business development and R&D.
As well as consultancy, there are many routes to collaboration including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, student internships and placements, sponsoring PhD level research, contract and collaborative research, and in-service training…
The list goes on – and we can put together a tailored package that best suits your business needs.
To find out more about how we can work with you and to get in touch, please visit our website.
- Top image: Measuring the impact of natural light at Ickworth, Suffolk
- Inset image: The Central Park Tower under construction – soaring above the Art Students League building
Date published: 2 July 2020