In late 2017, one of the University of Birmingham’s most impressive business collaborations was announced. A leading financial institution provided five years’ worth of funding to establish a £2.5m research centre within the University’s Business School.

The Lloyds Banking Group Centre for Responsible Business is a unique partnership that actively engages with businesses, NGOs and policy makers who are at the frontier of responsible business education and practice to develop and share research findings and best practice in responsible business practice and translate into workable solutions.

The Centre has twelve research challenge areas, ranging from building sustainable business models, through to embedding United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within governance.

Professor Ian Thomson, the Centre Director, focuses his research on sustainable accounting and using evidence to influence organisational decision making. The Centre will also explore the obstacles blocking responsible business transformation and propose solutions based on quality evidence and evaluation.

“This partnership is already contributing to the process of transforming responsible business practice in the banking industry and beyond: through engaged research, agenda setting thought leadership and innovative and accessible responsible business education”

Fiona Cannon OBE, Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Head of Responsible Business, Lloyds Banking Group

In 2017, the University of Birmingham was the higher education sponsor of the Confederation of British Industry Annual Conference, solidifying its approach to working proactively with business to solve industry’s challenges. The University used the opportunity to launch its ‘10 Ways We’re Transforming Business’ campaign, which touched on tangible research strengths from across our five Colleges that are having a direct impact on business; the first in the collection of ten was ‘We’re making business responsible.’

Professor Ian Thomson was also asked during the Conference to sit on a panel discussing how to grow trust within business. At the Centre’s announcement, Martin Dodd, Lloyds Banking Group’s Ambassador for the Midlands, said: ‘It’s Lloyds Banking Group’s belief that restoring trust with the public remains a critical task for us as a bank and for the industry as a whole; and we believe it is in our own hands to rebuild this trust. This can only be achieved through a healthy corporate culture in which every individual is valued for the skills, enthusiasm and dedication they bring to the business. Engraining a healthy corporate culture across the industry and beyond should be a priority.”

The University of Birmingham is accelerating industry and academic research collaborations, with the ultimate goal of providing academics with greater impact for their research and more diversified income, whilst supporting industry as it grows and innovates. As a research-intensive institution it is vital that the University maximises all opportunities to generate industry research awards and create impact through the transformative work of its academics.

In the past five years, the University has more than doubled its awards from industry, helped 350 academics to engage with business, and collaborated with over 300 organisations. The University continues to set ambitious targets for its level of engagement with business, and is aiming to double its research income by 2026.

This success story first featured in the 2018 State of the Relationship report, commissioned by Research England and compiled and published by NCUB. Read the full report here.