Bringing academic excellence and industrial muscle together

Business Impact: Bringing academic excellence and industrial muscle together
Business Impact: Bringing academic excellence and industrial muscle together

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses have been forced to make mass changes to the way they operate. In an era where rapid and widespread transformations are reshaping industries, businesses must remain vigilant and prioritise resilience by embracing adaptability, innovation and a commitment to continuous learning.

The need to upskill

To achieve this, the global workforce is seeing a mass interest in upskilling employees to facilitate research and development (R&D), especially in innovative sectors like science and technology. By taking advantage of R&D, businesses can tackle emerging challenges and problems within the industry, ultimately improving their adaptability. During the pandemic, this type of innovative thinking was required to stay afloat, however moving forward, businesses can harness this power to ensure their success in a changing landscape and spark meaningful change for their company and industry as a whole.

As well as facilitating R&D, upskilling employees also supports businesses by boosting staff satisfaction and increasing the likelihood that valuable talent can be retained. This, in turn, also improves their resilience.

The benefits of fellowships

Fellowships can play a critical role in equipping employees with the skills required to run R&D projects and are an effective route for upskilling talent while pushing a company towards innovation. And in today’s business landscape, innovation is key to growing and sustaining a successful company.

By providing individuals with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills, fellowships enable them to stay at the forefront of their fields and identify new opportunities for growth and development. Furthermore, they can also be a powerful tool for businesses looking to grow and expand. By investing in the education and training of their employees, companies can develop a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce that is capable of driving innovation and growth. This, in turn, can lead to increased competitiveness and profitability for the company.

In addition to benefiting individual employees and their companies, fellowships also have broader implications for education and career development. By providing access to funding and resources for academic and research pursuits, fellowships can broaden access to education and enable more people to progress their academic careers.

Fellowships can take many forms around the world. In the UK, the Industrial Fellowships offered by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 are one example of how business can upskill their employees while developing solutions that directly benefit their operation.

Connecting academia and industry

One way in which an Industrial Fellowship can work is by giving an existing employee the opportunity to work on a PhD project as part of their employment. Alternatively, it can allow a business to start (or expand) an R&D programme through supportive funding.

In this way, the fellowships connect the often-separated worlds of academia and industry – universities gain a link into the most pressing challenges faced by businesses, while businesses get an oversight of the latest academic research into issues that affect their sectors.

Additionally, employees develop new skills that can be applied to their current job and contribute directly to the growth and success of their company. For PhD students, fellowships also provide valuable opportunities to gain industry experience and work on projects that have direct relevance to their field of study.

In practical terms, an Industrial Fellowship covers 50 per cent of a fellow’s salary and associated academic and travel costs. A PhD candidate also receives a £10,000 grant once their doctoral thesis has been submitted from their university.

Removing barriers to innovation

Over the years, the Royal Commission has seen great success from the projects and relationships that emerge from its fellowships. With more than a century of funding higher education and research programmes, its active alumni number more than 900 and its prestigious former recipients list includes 13 Nobel Prize winners.

Current Industrial Fellowship recipients are working towards innovative solutions in science, medicine and engineering. For example, Finbar Gaffey, University of Sheffield, is working alongside Life Arc to develop a platform to improve the identification of therapies for motor neurone disease. Another fellow, Nicholas Nyamayedenga, University of Bradford, is working alongside the James Mae Group to develop an innovative system of waste-water treatment that reduces the coast and energy of the original process. The outcomes of these projects directly benefit both the industrial and academic partners by facilitating R&D and supporting research activity.

The Industrial Fellowships are just one of a selection of programmes offered by the Royal Commission. It believes that by ensuring that all partners involved in a fellowship are supported, they are removing barriers to facilitate innovation.

The Royal Commission is a funding body and charity that emerged from the profits of the Great Exhibition of 1851, an event that aimed to showcase art and science at the time and promote its influence on society. Its success in supporting innovative companies of all sizes could and should be replicated in other countries to help tackle today’s biggest challenges, such as in the area of sustainability.

Bringing together academic rigour and industrial process brings benefits to all parties. Academic learning is shared with companies, leading to the development of new products and services that support the greatest societal goals – everything from climate change to antimicrobial resistance. In a business atmosphere led by these issues, collaboration is essential.

John Lavery

John Lavery is secretary at the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

Read more Business Impact articles related to
professional development:

Download the latest edition of the Business Impact magazine

Cover Story

A World of Difference

An annual summer school offered to executive MBA (EMBA) students studying at multiple locations around the world allows participants to come together and transform their differences into assets that drive personal growth. Director of EMBA programmes at the School of Management Sciences at the University of Quebec in Montreal (ESG-Uqam) Kamal Bouzinab offers an in-depth guide to an intensive week of experiential learning, cross-continental dialogue and networking.

Want your business school to feature in
Business Impact?

For questions about editorial opportunities, please contact:

Tim Banerjee Dhoul

Content Editor
Business Impact


Share this page with your colleagues

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Translate »