Sam Hickman, Business Engagement Partner at the University of Birmingham has been awarded Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) Connect+Develop award, reflecting his instrumental role in growing the collaborative relationship between P&G and the University.

P&G’s Connect + Develop programme collaborates with external partners to help initiate partnerships to drive discontinuous, sustainable innovation and productivity across the P&G business: for products, technology, in-store, ecommerce and the supply chain. More than 50% of product initiatives at P&G involve significant collaboration with outside innovators and, as part of this programme, P&G recognises a few best-in-class collaborators who are helping to access strategically important areas of science and technology and push the boundaries of how P&G can engage with top class industrially relevant research. Working together in partnership enables P&G to be a force for good and a force for growth.

The University and P&G’s relationship has grown over the past decade, from initial engagements in the field of chemical engineering, through to today involving interdisciplinary projects also with experts from social sciences, psychology and chemistry. Together the University and P&G have partnered successfully in a number of grant funded research programmes, including those from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), BBSRC, AMSCI and Horizon 2020.

Paul Swift, Connect + Develop Manager UK for P&G, said, ‘The Business Engagement Partner role is a crucial position in academic-industry relationships, to be able to turn good ideas and intentions on both sides into highly productive new collaborative programmes that deliver what both parties want. Sam is skilled at identifying expertise and routes to collaborate both within and beyond the university, bringing exciting opportunities to the table and quickly resolving the inevitable challenges that come up when starting new collaborations. Thanks to the expertise and enthusiasm of Sam we’ve been able to expand the breadth of engagement with the University of Birmingham, strengthening our core areas of collaborative research and also in new areas that have developed from small seed projects into large-scale collaborative programmes.’

Professor Andy Schofield, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said, ‘This award demonstrates the positive impact that enthusiastic business engagement can have on a relationship with a company, as a College and University we are very proud of Sam for all his work in building this partnership with P&G. More than ever businesses and universities need to work together to address shared societal challenges.’

On the photo (L–R): Professor Andy Schofield, Dr Patricia Andreu Cabedo, Paul Swift, Sam Hickman, Dr Zhenyu Jason Zhang