Sharing knowledge and collaboration – how is UWE Bristol working with business to solve real-world challenges?

Future Space, Bristol.

Future Space, Bristol.

A partnership with a university can prove to be hugely beneficial for businesses, and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) offers an exciting and broad range of possibilities for collaboration. Businesses from across all sectors can benefit, as well as tapping into specialist knowledge from across the University.

UWE Bristol has always been ahead of the curve where business/university collaboration is concerned and is recognised for having a long-standing commitment to supporting industry, as well as engaging with businesses and setting up opportunities for enterprise, innovation and growth.

Within its University Enterprise Zone (UEZ) sits Future Space, a work space that helps smaller, high-growth companies access facilities, business support, and opportunities for collaboration with university research teams, and for companies that are at an earlier stage in their development, UEZ’s Launch Space offers a workspace and support for graduate start-ups.

Another way to access expertise through UWE Bristol is via a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). This programme involves the recruiting of a graduate for a specific innovation project within a company. At the same time, the University supplies technical knowledge through its faculties, from engineering all the way through to the creative industries.

Up to two-thirds of project costs can be met by the UK government, and the programme is suitable for businesses from most industries and sectors, as well as not-for-profit organisations. The University is involved in numerous KTPs, which address a range of challenges including how best to provide expertise in the installation of robotics in a company to increase productivity, or how to ensure the survival of a traditional print technique on pottery, using digital printing technology.

One ongoing KTP is a partnership with the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, which builds, operates and supports large-scale retirement villages throughout the UK, to help it incorporate innovative technologies into its properties to sustain and prolong their residents’ independence and improve their quality of life.

The technology will include intelligent sensing systems that could determine when someone falls in the home. Other interactive systems such as smart assistants and assistive robots are to provide reminders for medication, support rehabilitation activities, or take voice commands to turn appliances on, or close the blinds for those with mobility impairments.

The two-year project, which covers over 15 ExtraCare retirement villages in the UK, will see it work with the University’s Assisted Living Studio, based in Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL). The Assisted Living Studio is a facility to develop, test and implement assistive robots and intelligent sensor systems.

These partnerships with businesses lead to increased profitability and strategic growth, as well as creating hugely beneficial opportunities, both for businesses and for the business leaders of tomorrow.

By working together, universities and businesses have the chance to develop and influence the future workforce, and be a force for positive change.