A fitting farewell to the man in the red jacket

Bob Crossley presents Steve with the cake

A momentous occasion

The date of Tuesday 14th November marked the occasion of our final Ingenuity breakfast event of 2017, but it was also significant for another reason – it was Steve Upcraft’s last ever Ingenuity event! Steve, who is semi-retiring, has been the face of the Ingenuity Network for more than a decade and his trademark red jacket has become synonymous with Ingenuity events. We couldn’t let such a momentous occasion go unrecognised.

Ryan Keyworth, Director of Research and Innovation at the University of Nottingham, marked the occasion with a presentation to Steve, thanking him for all of his hard work in building the network. Bob Crossley, Operations Manager for the University of Nottingham’s Hospitality Department – and the man responsible for our delicious Ingenuity breakfasts! – then presented Steve with a rather special cake made by the catering team. What else would do for the man in the red jacket, but a red jacket cake? From all of us at the Ingenuity Network, a very big thank you to Steve for a job well done.

Dr Mark Haselgrove

Associative learning

Dr Mark Haselgrove then took to the floor to deliver the keynote presentation. Mark is an Associate Professor in the University of Nottingham’s School of Psychology and is interested in ‘associative learning’ – how the human brain (or indeed the brain of any living thing) makes connections, or associations, between one thing and another.

Mark outlined an experiment where associative learning was observed in rats. Rats were taught to associate a shining light with the imminent arrival of food, and thus began to place their noses in the food deposit area whenever they saw the light. Whilst we’d like to think we are far more sophisticated creatures than rats, the exact same mechanism is at work in our own brains when we learn to associate a stimulus with a reward.

Mark explained how in the business world associative learning can be exploited to influence a customer’s perception of your product or service. In one study, people who had been directed to associate a brand of toothpaste with a ‘positive’ image of a beautiful mountain scene had greater buying intentions than those who had been directed to associate the toothpaste with a ‘neutral’ image. Mark is now exploring how his knowledge of how people form associations could help members of the network to intentionally influence the behaviour of others to achieve their business objectives.

Join us again in 2018

Our programme of Ingenuity breakfast events will resume in 2018, when we’ll be introducing the local business community to yet more great research at the University of Nottingham that could help their businesses grow and flourish. Keep an eye on our website for details of our upcoming events.