Collaborating for business engagement – working across higher education functions to achieve positive results with partners

An example of working across university teams to deliver positive industry interactions.

Andy Newnham
University of Birmingham

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Gurmit Kler
University of Birmingham

Background and Objectives
This presentation will discuss how three core externally-facing functions at the University of Birmingham have collaborated across a number of projects to secure positive results with industry partners. These three teams: Business Engagement, Research Support Services, and the Development and Alumni Relations Office, benefit from not only co-location but also a high level of collaborative behaviours, which permeates their leadership and operational teams.

The objective for the presentation is to equip both higher education professionals attending with applicable lessons for their institutions (we often hear that some universities find it hard to maximise business development opportunities across similar functions), and industry delegates with a better understanding of how they can co-ordinate their alumni, research and other engagements with universities (another thing we hear is that industry finds it hard to map and co-ordinate these activities).

We believe our experience at Birmingham is not entirely unique, but it is unusual, and our experience is eminently useful for others. Our greatest strengths at Birmingham have been that our Business Engagement team was originally part of the same department as our Development and Alumni professionals, and subsequently then moved into the same department as our Research Support Services (contracts and finance functions). Through the presentation we will discuss what behaviours this has instilled in the teams, what role Business Engagement (our most commercial team) plays in combining efforts and leading teams, and we will hear directly how industry partners have benefitted.