The Unlocking Business Potential: Partnerships Showcase, part of the University of Bath's Ignite+ event series, took place at the Doubletree Hilton, Bath, on 24 April. The event provided a platform to explore collaboration and exchange ideas between local businesses and the University looking to create innovation with impact.

The showcase provided an opportunity for businesses to discover and learn about the different ways of working with the University of Bath, including Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), Consultancy, Contract Research, access to facilities and equipment, and student placements and projects. 

Dr Steve Boakes, Head of Business Partnerships and Knowledge Exchange (BP&KE) from Research and Innovation Services (RIS), opened the event and welcomed attendees from businesses active in a range of sectors including engineering, pharmaceutical, energy, sustainability and healthcare. Dr Geraint Jones, Knowledge Transfer Advisor from Innovate UK Business Connect, highlighted the support available from Innovate UK in business-led innovation in all sectors. This was followed by talks from Dr Zachary Hickman, Jason Edwards and Emma Riddle, BP&KE Managers in RIS, who provided overviews of KTPs, Consultancy and Contract Research, and Placements and student business projects, respectively.

A highlight of the Showcase were case study presentations on the highly successful KTP between the University of Bath and IoMosaic. Ozgur Simsek, Professor of AI and Deputy Head of the Department of Computer Science, and Kamel Balquis, Software Team Leader of IoMosaic, gave personalised accounts of their KTP experiences, highlighting the benefits and impact on the business and academic research. Kamel Balquis said:

It is obvious that both the KTP programme and the University of Bath are highly spoken of and recognised by industries as a “way to success”. We could have hired someone without using a KTP however KTPs have a proven track record of success and collaboration with the University of Bath is very important for us. Our KTP proposal was highly innovative as it had never been done before and we have a long standing relationship with the University. The KTP was really very good collaborative work which also enabled us to engage with other subject matter experts, taking the project to a new level.

Professor Ozgur Simsek said:

We get strong support from the Research and Innovation Services (RIS) at the University of Bath, especially when developing KTPs, which is one of the reasons for our very high success rate. IoMosaic already had a relationship with the Department of Chemical Engineering at Bath but not with Computer Science or the AI and Machine Learning Research Group. They now sit on the Industrial Advisory Board of the Department of Computer Science and we expect to collaborate on more projects with them in the future.”

A brief break for networking and coffee provided the audience with the opportunity to shape meaningful connections and exchange ideas. This followed with a talk from Anneke Lubben, Director of Research Infrastructure & Facilities who provided a comprehensive overview of the university's cutting-edge equipment and facilities available for commercial use.

Dr Alice Davies, Research Product Owner, Mayden House Ltd, and former KTP Associate who is a University of Bath PhD graduate, also spoke. Dr Davies presented about the positive transformative journey of collaboration highlighted through the many partnerships between Mayden and the University of Bath. This included a KTP awarded ‘Outstanding’ by Innovate UK, which has led to a much broader and deeper ongoing relationship with the University.

Dr Shannon Stodd, BP&KE Manager, led on a series of Lightning Talks which gave attendees a one minute pitching opportunity to showcase their business or academic research areas, their priorities and how they can support innovation.

Dr Steve Boakes, closed the event, saying:

The Ignite+ partnership event highlighted the depth and breadth of support that the University of Bath can offer to partner with external organisations at a range of stages. It was fantastic to see so many different organisations represented and be part of positive discussions about research collaborations with the University of Bath. This will help to grow opportunities that will deliver innovation with impact.

Other attendees commented:

Mike Madden, Innovation Partner for SW England for the Defence and Security Accelerator:

The event was great to meet local businesses and establish long lasting relationship with academic and research.

Geraint Jones, Knowledge Transfer Advisor from Innovate UK Business Connect:

The morning went well with a range of interactive speakers and great to hear from the audience through the Lightning Talks.

Geoff Lodge, Director of Still Life Gin:

The event was useful in understanding how the organisation can create further collaboration with the University research teams and consultancy services.

Jon Watts, Head of Product at Dancerace:

The event offered further understanding of the University KTPs capabilities and its wider reach.