Collaboration is key when it comes to Plymouth’s approach to business challenges. The university is bringing together fresh minds and bright ideas to the SME community to achieve real-world change
How do SMEs work with higher educational institutions? Today the role of innovation and technology is more important than ever, but how easy is it for small businesses to access the talent pool, expertise and research facilities of a university?
The University of Plymouth was founded in the 1860s to provide education to seafarers. Today, the university balances the traditional academic activities of teaching, learning and research with the very active business and community engagement strategy of an anchor institution.
In particular, the university engages with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), providing access to its physical and intellectual assets, for research, student development and commercial purposes.
Adrian Dawson, director of research and innovation at Plymouth explains: “The university’s approach reflects the increased importance placed on higher education institutions as drivers of economic growth.”
“In particular, Plymouth works in collaboration with SMEs on social, economic and environmental challenges that require innovative R&D solutions such as smart and clean energy, robotics and AI, healthcare and medicine, and manufacturing processes and materials of the future.”
The university seeks to address these challenges through Enterprise Solutions, a service founded to act as a portal through which businesses can access the university’s internationally renowned research expertise, facilities and business services. A dedicated team that links the business’s needs to the very best services available within the university and its network of partners.
“Forging such strong partnerships with the business community will be increasingly important going forward,” says Mr Dawson.
“The challenges to the higher education sector are numerous – from an increasingly volatile market, to the uncertainties surrounding international social and economic markets.”
“But the role of universities will become even more important if we are to tackle some of the pressing global challenges of the day, and collaboration with the private sector is the key to addressing them.”
“Through knowledge exchange and partnership, research universities can inform policy and product development, and we can begin to address issues, from plastics in our oceans to using AI and robotics in healthcare and leisure.”
“Despite the uncertainties, Plymouth is continuing to seek collaborative partnerships with industry to solve evolving socio-economic, technical and environmental challenges.”