An award-winning university has hailed the cutting-edge innovation and entrepreneurship coming out of Devon and Cornwall during a difficult 18 months.
Despite the pandemic, the University of Plymouth has continued to work with hundreds of organisations, both large and small, to find innovative solutions to the challenges they face.
The team at Enterprise Solutions, R&I, helps external organisations access internationally renowned research expertise, world-class facilities, and student talent.
Business Engagement Manager Rich Adams said: “As part of the Enterprise Solutions team, I get to see the exciting technical advances being made in the region every day. There’s no doubt that when businesses and universities join forces, they can really drive innovation.
“Nowhere is this more apparent than in the field of new technology. There are some really exciting examples that the University of Plymouth is involved with down here in the South West – particularly across the fields of agri-tech, e-health, medicine, art, big data and marine robotics.
“It’s undoubtedly been a tough year but we want to focus on the future. Looking forward is essential for economic prosperity.”
As such, it’s no surprise that the University of Plymouth is co-headline sponsor at this year’s Plymouth Live Business Awards and is throwing its weight behind the Young Business Person of the Year award.
‘A civic university’
The University of Plymouth aims to truly engage with local businesses and deliver outstanding economic, social and cultural benefits.
Its Enterprise Solutions initiative helps external organisations access its award-winning business incubator, Formation Zone (now merged into The Cube ), the business incubation centre at Plymouth Science Park, and three Cornwall Innovation Centres.
Rich explained: “We connect hundreds of businesses, of all sizes across most sectors, to the right support that meets their organisation’s needs, injecting new thinking to support and drive innovation.
“This could involve joint research and development projects, access to our innovation centres or science park, or accessing student talent or academic expertise.
“Collaborating with a university may also pave the way for government funding, which could help kick-start or sustain your project.
“Our ultimate aim is to become known as ‘a civic university’, where innovation and creativity, together with responsible business practice, underpin all our activities.”
Addressing the skills gap
One of the key roles a university can play is to plug any gaps in knowledge. Many organisations feel technology evolves too quickly for them to keep up with the skills required.
Rich said: “Any new tech project is likely to need a broad range of skills and expertise.
“A business may well have the specialist knowledge for key aspects of a project, but as it progresses, it’s highly likely that they will need additional expertise that they don’t have in-house.
“Universities are very well placed for this. That’s not only because they have their own depth and breadth of expertise, but because they are also likely to be well connected to other organisations, potentially globally, that could work with you.”
Partnering with a university can also give you access to world-class facilities and equipment, which you may be able to use free of charge or for a small fee.
The University of Plymouth offers a bespoke service supported by technical specialists with expertise in areas including mechanical engineering, materials characterisation, geology and biomedical.
Rich said: “Using the highest level equipment during the R&D phase to test out your ideas could help you solve problems and answer questions much more quickly and accurately.
“And you’ll be able to benefit from the knowledge of our world-leading academics, as well as technical specialist staff and talented students and graduates.”
Taking any new technology to market is challenging if it doesn’t yet have a track record, which is where a university collaboration can also really help.
Rich explained: “Academics are known for their objectivity, so their involvement can bring credibility to your product, potentially giving you the edge on your competitors.
“We have access to the latest research from all around the world, which means an academic can bring new insights to your project.
“This will help you see your development in a global context, which could help you identify where the opportunities are, as well as any potential threats from competitors.”
Find out more?
Solve your business problems by working with the brightest minds and freshest talent at the University of Plymouth. To find out more about Enterprise Solutions, email [email protected] or see the website.
The Plymouth Live Business Awards will take place on Wednesday, November 3. For more details and to nominate, see the website.