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June 2016

Focus on business engagement

(5 June 2016)

As part of the Faculty’s commitment to providing outstanding research, high-quality teaching to students and making a positive difference to local, national and international communities, colleagues across Humanities engage with a range of different external organisations. 

We regularly interact and partner with charities, government, communities, social and cultural organisations, as well as commercial businesses. The quality and frequency of that engagement is important if we are to help deliver the Manchester 2020 Vision. These external engagements can allow us to co-create knowledge with external partners and deliver increased impact from our research. It can open up opportunities to our graduates to develop the attributes and experience most highly valued by employers and contribute to the greater good, including the city region and cultural organisations. At a time when there is growing pressure on public funding for universities it can also help diversify our sources of income.

Recently, the new Humanities Business Engagement Strategy has been launched. It outlines how we will deliver a step-change in our engagement with external partners, and particularly with commercial businesses.

What is business engagement? 

Within Humanities, business engagement is not just our relationships with business partners, but also with government, public sector, charities, community, social and cultural organisations.

Engagement itself can take a variety of forms, including collaborative research, consultancy, knowledge exchange, support for PGR studentships from external organisations, CPD and executive education, external support for teaching and learning, and the commercialisation of intellectual property.

What is the focus of the Strategy? 

There are three main themes of the Strategy: 

  • a step-change in our activity, broadening and deepening our links with external partners of all kinds, but with a particular focus on increased engagement with commercial companies;
  • business engagement should contribute to one or more of the three goals of promoting world-class research, an outstanding teaching and learning experience and social responsibility;
  • business engagement should become routine business across the Faculty of Humanities.

The Strategy makes nine recommendations aimed at ensuring there are clear leads within Schools and Research Institutes; developing more effective engagement with the University’s Strategic Partners in industry; ensuring strategic alignment to our social responsibility agenda; reducing barriers to engagement through communications activities and recognising the achievements of engaged academics; increasing awareness and uptake of the funding available to support engagement; maximising the benefits to PGR by increasing externally funded studentships, exploring opportunities in teaching and learning; and improving the collection and sharing of information on business engagement activities across Schools and the Faculty.  

You can read the full Business Engagement Strategy on StaffNet.

What support is available for academic colleagues? 

The Assistant Associate Dean for Business Engagement and External Relations, Dr Andrew James, is responsible for delivering the Faculty’s strategy. He has extensive personal experience of collaborative research with large and small businesses and engagement with UK central government, European Union institutions and international organisations. He has also held a number of CASE studentships. He is available to provide advice and support from the academic perspective. 

The Faculty of Humanities Business Engagement Support Team (BEST) comprises Dr Shanta Aphale, Business Engagement Manager, and Rachel Kenyon, Business Engagement Officer.

 The Business Engagement Support Team can help you: 

  • identify potential external partners and funders for research and advise on the best ways of engaging with external organisations;
  • build links with external organisations and support inter-disciplinary collaborative research;
  • provide information on the funding available;
  • manage relationships with current partners;
  • represent the University and/or specific research groups at external events to grow networks and promote our research expertise.

  • Find out more about its work, including case studies of recent activity, on the Business Engagement website.