The University of Nottingham has been nominated for a Guardian University Award for an innovative project which uses expertise and insights from Arts academics to help businesses look at their issues in a different way.
The University’s Ingenuity programme provides workshops and seminars for businesses, giving them the opportunity to meet academics and find out about expertise that they might want to access. Each month, businesses have the opportunity to hear from academic experts on a diverse range of subjects from marketing to 3D printing, at breakfast seminars and workshops.
The Business Engagement department was keen to showcase some of the expertise in the Faculty of Arts and demonstrate how it could be beneficial to businesses. Following discussions with academics in the Faculty of Arts, who were keen to test some of their ideas on a business audience, the Ingenuity team developed a series of themed workshops and seminars aimed at local businesses.
The Arts-Business programme, which was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, consisted of 14 breakfast seminars and workshops involving academics from across the Faculty of Arts, which ranged from subjects as diverse as ‘Leadership communication’, ‘Hollywood in your business’ and ‘Disruptive thinking’.
The Arts-Business programme was a step into the unknown according to Gemma Morgan-Jones, Knowledge Exchange Officer for Ingenuity. “We just didn’t know how the business community would react to the programme,” explained Gemma. “When businesses have a problem, experts in philosophy or classics are usually not the first people they think of contacting! However, the response to the programme exceeded all of our expectations, with over 450 people coming to the breakfast seminars and workshops. We have also had to repeat many of them due to their popularity.”
One of the most popular sessions involved two academics from Classics, Esther Eidinow and Katharina Lorenz, Department of Classics, who wanted to disseminate their research on ancient Greek and Roman mythology to a wider audience.
They developed a workshop, entitled ‘the business of storytelling’ which demonstrated how the techniques used in myths from the ancient world could be applied to help businesses communicate more effectively to modern day audiences.
One of the participants on this workshop was Jon Fowler from the architectural firm, Arctica, based in Stamford Lincolnshire. He said: “It was a brilliant way to find out what our staff thought and to develop a consistent message. We looked at how to apply their theories to our website and marketing materials, and we now know that we need to change them quite a lot in order to get our stories across more effectively in future.”
The programme has also enabled academics in the Arts to investigate new avenues of research with businesses. Dr Louise Mullany, Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics ran a workshop entitled ‘Effective Online Communications’, she commented: “The programme has provided me with the crucial link I needed into the world of business. I’ve benefitted enormously from the opportunity – new research ideas have sprung from collaborations and I’ve been able to work with a wide range of stakeholders.”
Dr. George Baxter, Director of Business Engagement and Innovation Services, added: “I am delighted that the Ingenuity team has been nominated for this award for their work on developing and delivering this programme. The success of the Arts-Business programme has really been an eye-opener for both businesses and academics like.
“Academics who might previously have thought that their particular research interest had little or no relevance to the commercial world have discovered through this programme that businesses are very keen to hear about their ideas and theories, as it helps them to think about new and innovative ways to find solutions to problems.”
In addition to the University’s Guardian nomination in the Business Partnerships category, it has also been nominated in the Digital Innovation category, for HELM (Health e-Learning and Media). This project has developed 200 free-to-use and media rich digital learning tools which are used by 1.5 million people around the world to educate healthcare students, professionals and the public.
The Guardian University Awards take place on 16th March at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.
Regrettably we didn’t win but you can find out more by clicking this link.