The University of Nottingham is ready to celebrate after being nominated for an award in the Business Partnerships category of the Guardian University Awards. It was the University’s Ingenuity programme that attracted the attention of the judges, the innovative project utilises expertise and insights from Arts academics to help businesses look at their issues in a different way.
The Ingenuity programme began following discussions with academics in the Faculty of Arts, who were keen to test some of their ideas on a business audience. A series of themed workshops and seminars aimed at local businesses were then developed by the Ingenuity team, on subjects as diverse as ‘Leadership communication’, ‘Hollywood in your business’ and ‘Disruptive thinking’.
“We just didn’t know how the business community would react to the programme,” said Gemma Morgan-Jones, Knowledge Exchange Officer for Ingenuity. “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, Esther Eidinow and Katharina Lorenz from the Department of Classics. Their workshop, entitled ‘the business of storytelling’ 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 the workshop, Jon Fowler from the architectural firm, Arctica, 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 the participating academics in the Arts to investigate new avenues of research with businesses. Dr Louise Mulling from the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics said “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 at the University of Nottingham added: “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, the University of Nottingham has also been nominated in the Digital Innovation category, for HELM (Health e-Learning and Media). The HELM 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 March 16 at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London.