Collaborating with east London’s university community

Hester Gartrell, Senior Outreach and Access Officer for Stratford discusses the East London Collaboration Day that she organised with universities operating in east London. She also discusses the onus behind creating the East London Widening Participation Forum. 

While many might be used to universities coming together to recruit students at Higher Education Fairs, on the 25 February we brought universities together for a slightly different reason. 

Rather than just showcasing the courses offered by different universities, the East London Universities Collaboration Day aimed to make educational professionals working in schools, colleges and other organisations more aware of the outreach and widening participation offer available from universities based in east London.  

We all know that with increasing workloads and lots of things to juggle, it can often be difficult for teachers or other educational professionals to know who to contact at a university. Bring into the mix that universities have different specialties and their access work might focus on different groups and you have a situation where education professionals want to engage their students with the idea of university but don’t know where to start.  

This event that I set up and run in partnership with China Anya, Senior Outreach Officer at Loughborough University of London aimed to address this by giving people the opportunity to find out about the different universities specialities and meet face to face with widening participation teams. Attendees had the chance to network with universities and hear more about their outreach work, as well as take part in a workshop and panel session which covered topics such as student wellbeing, part-time study and funding options.  

Ten universities attended including established east London Higher Education institutions such as Queen Mary and the University of East London, and more recent arrivals to the area including Loughborough, Coventry and Staffordshire Universities 

The day was part of a wider initiative, the East London Widening Participation Forum that was set up in 2019 as part of the Access and Engagement Department’s outreach work in the Borough of Newham.  

It’s important that universities work together to help those who face barriers to accessing higher education. With lots of universities coming to east London as part of developments such as the Olympic park, 2019 seemed like the perfect time to bring established east London universities and more recent arrivals together. The aim of the forum is to see how we can work in partnership to help east Londoners take advantage of the activities and information about Higher Education offered by our forum’s members – who are right on their doorstep! 

We’re looking forward to seeing where the forum goes from here and are definitely hoping to run more workshops and events. We had over 30 professionals come along to the event and feedback from attendees has been great. There’s clearly an appetite for universities to come together and share their knowledge and expertise in a collaborative way. 

 

 

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CIMR hosts Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Roundtable

The workshop brought together key academic and policy colleagues to consider how best to support the development of management and leadership skills in SMEs.

Birkbeck’s Professor Helen Lawton Smith with Maja Savic from the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

Adoption of management practices such as IT systems and strategic management improve productivity and performance by boosting employee motivation and enhancing entrepreneurial behaviour in organisations. Strong leadership and management skills are essential for embedding these productivity-enhancing practices.

The Business Productivity Team at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are looking to understand which management and leadership skills are associated with adopting key management practices and what types of curriculum result in the development of these skills.

This is building on the findings of the Business Productivity Review, announced in November. This includes actions being taken forward such as closer working with intermediaries, the development of a Small Business Leadership Programme, Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and peer to peer networks.  These programmes aim to give small business leaders the time, the tools and the capabilities to identify and exploit knowledge that will support their business development.

Hosted by CIMR, this workshop brought together senior academics from UK business schools and business growth experts, including representatives from Be the Business and the Chartered Management Institute.

Among the issues addressed in the discussion were the current barriers to SME leaders accessing support; learnings to be taken from successful international initiatives such as Innovation Norway; the kinds of problems and opportunities that the programme might support SME leaders to explore; and the need for a logical, research-informed framework for skills development.

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Challenges and opportunities for university-business co-creation: comparative perspectives from the UK and US

Organised by the Centre for Innovation Management Research, this panel event explored how universities and businesses can build mutually beneficial partnerships from an international perspective.

On Wednesday 19 February, Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research was proud to welcome academics and consultants alike to a guest seminar led by Professor Helen Lawton Smith and chaired by Dr Renos Savva.

The title of the discussion was Challenges and Opportunities for University-Business Co-Creation, with Adrian Day, Dr Federica Rossi, Professor Tomasz Mroczkowski and Evelyn Wilson each bringing their individual expertise to the panel.

Throughout this fascinating event, each panellist outlined their view of the ever-changing relationship between universities and private enterprise. With a focus on international perspectives; from Japan to Sweden, the US and the UK, attendees were encouraged to outline their experience of joint ventures. Moreover, in discussing the dichotomy between government policy and evolving attitudes towards innovation, the role of today’s universities was brought into the debate.

In looking to the future, this event sought to compare the varying attitudes towards university-business co-creation, with an aim to building new and sustainable partnerships throughout the academic and entrepreneurial spheres.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event such a success!

  • Dr Renos Savva, a Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at Birkbeck, and co-founder of the Birkbeck-UCL-ICR start-up, Domainex Ltd., which is now an established biotech sector SME based in the Cambridge area.
  • Adrian Day has spent over 15 years working at the interface between academia and the economy, covering all aspects from design of data systems to providing direct advice to the Minister for Universities.
  • Dr Federica Rossi is Senior Lecturer in Business Economics at Birkbeck.
  • Dr Tomasz Mroczkowski, American University, has studied and written about innovation, the management of change, and economic transition for most of his career.
  • Evelyn Wilson is a Founder/Director of The Culture Capital Exchange, established in 2011 and was Senior Manager at its previous iteration London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange.

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London students envision a greener future with Creative Hack

The two-day hackathon supported students to develop smart business ideas to make London a cleaner and greener city.

In January, university students from across London came together to take part in Creative Hack, a two-day ‘hackathon’ run in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, Birkbeck, London South Bank University, Loughborough London University, University of East London, University College London and Washington University in St Lewis.

The hackathon is an opportunity for entrepreneurial students to network and build cross-institutional collaborations, whilst generating ideas that they may go on to submit in the annual Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

There’s no shortage of inspirational initiatives taking place in the capital: from harnessing the steps of passers-by to generate electricity to making swim shorts from plastic waste found in the Thames, entrepreneurs play a key role in making London a greener place to live and work.

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition aims to continue this tradition of innovation by supporting students in London to step up to the challenge of building a truly sustainable city, offering prizes for business ideas to make London cleaner and greener.

In Creative Hack, 17 teams of students and graduates across the different universities had two days to generate ideas to solve some of the biggest environmental challenges facing London today. Teams could choose from four main themes: Environment, Smart Cities, Creative Industries or Health.

Supported by experienced entrepreneurs and experts in design, pitching and team management, teams were guided through the ‘hacking’ process, from ideation through to pitching.

The two-day hackathon culminated with teams pitching their ideas to a panel of expert judges, with the winners decided through an audience vote. The winning team, Erive, pitched an innovative alternative to power charging stations, receiving £2,500 and dedicated application support for the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition in recognition of their innovative success.

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