On Tuesday 12th September, Westminster Business School Senior Strategy and Entrepreneurship Lecturer, Dr Ainurul Rosli lead a workshop at the prestigious British Academy, as part of their BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. Dr Rosli was joined by Dr Muthu De Silva, a Lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Kent Business School; Dr Federica Rossi, a Senior Lecturer of Economics at Birkbeck and Dr Nick Yip, a Lecturer in Marketing at the Norwich Business School. Together, the team have initiated the Hub of Knowledge Co-creation, to consolidate and promote their research findings better.  

Dr Muthu De Silva

The workshop began with the 4 team members delivering their findings, research aims and discussing “How do SMEs capitalise on their engagement with academics to create new business opportunities? Evidence from SME-university partnership in the UK”. Their research aims to focus on the processes, the impact and the drivers surrounding the co-creation of knowledge in university-SME collaborations.

Dr Ainurul Rosli

In doing so, it aims to fill the gap in current literature on university-business collaborations, which so far has focused on the unilateral transfer of knowledge from universities to large businesses. There is limited understanding of two-way knowledge co-creation, particularly when the business partner is an SME.

(From left to right) Dr David Docherty, Chris McDonald, Dr Ian Campbell, Dr Federica Rossi and Dr Lisa Mooney.

After the team presented their research and their project on co-creation between universities, the floor was then opened up to a highly experienced panel of researchers and professionals to discuss “How can SMEs make the most of public R&D investment? Opportunities and challenges of the UK’s industrial strategy”.

On the panel there was Dr Lisa Mooney, Pro Vice Chancellor Research & Knowledge Exchange at the University of East London; Professor Stephen Roper, Professor of Enterprise at the University of Warwick; Dr Ian Campbell, Director for Health and Life Sciences at Innovate UK; Dr David Docherty, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business and Chris McDonald, CEO of the Materials Processing Institute.

Professor Stephen Roper

First up from the panel to speak was Professor Stephen Roper from the University of Warwick who spoke about research council support for science, research and innovation, and who benefits. Followed by University of East London’s, Dr Lisa Mooney on barriers, drivers and opportunities to SME engagement with university research.

Dr Lisa Mooney

This was then followed by Dr Ian Campbell from Innovate UK on funding academic research and industrial strategy, Chris McDonald from the Materials Processing Institute who spoke about the power that small businesses have within the economy, followed by Dr David Docherty from the National Centre for Universities and Business who closed the panel.

“The panel agreed that, in order to facilitate successful collaboration, it is vital to bring SMEs into the ‘long game’, to make them feel supported, connected and deeply embedded in community. Differences must be acknowledged and accommodated – in academia, for example, there is often an appetite and a hunger to go beyond, but SMEs are inherently more risk-adverse and one small setback could be catastrophic. Many SMEs and companies cannot immediately afford the time and effort to work with universities if they cannot see the benefits of the experience. There must be more dialogue on the spectrum and availability of potential co-creation options, and their benefits to both parties through a clearer, advantageous conceptual framework.” – CIMR

Dr David Docherty

Thank you to Dr Ainurul Rosli for hosting this workshop and for her contributions towards this blog. If you would like to find out more about her research project, head to Hub of Knowledge Co-creation. You can also find out more about our BA Honours in Entrepreneurship and our MSc in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Enterprise Development.


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