A project which is helping small businesses to take advantage of academic expertise in arts subjects has been nominated for a national Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Award (THELMA).
The University’s Ingenuity programme has been running for almost 10 years, and provides focused workshops and seminars for business people, giving them the insights into new ideas and the opportunity to meet academics.
The Ingenuity team was keen to showcase some of the expertise in the Faculty of Arts and demonstrate how it could be beneficial to businesses. Following discussions with academics, the Ingenuity team developed a series of themed workshops and seminars aimed at local businesses.
Hollywood in your business
The Arts-Business programme, which was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, consisted of 14 breakfast seminars and workshops involving academics from across the Faculty of Arts, which ranged from subjects as diverse as ‘Leadership communication’, ‘Hollywood in your business’ and ‘Disruptive thinking’.
The Ingenuity programme provides workshops and seminars for businesses, giving them the opportunity to meet academics and find out about expertise that they might want to access.
The Arts-Business programme was a step into the unknown according to Gemma Morgan-Jones, Knowledge Exchange Officer for Ingenuity, she said: “We just didn’t know how the business community would react to the programme. 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.”
Applying ancient storytelling to the modern world
One of the most popular sessions involved two academics, Esther Eidinow and Katharina Lorenz from the Department of Classics, who wanted to disseminate their research on ancient Greek and Roman mythology to a wider audience.
They developed a workshop, entitled ‘the business of storytelling’ which 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 this workshop was Jon Fowler from the architectural firm, Arctica, based in Stamford Lincolnshire. He 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.”
New avenues of research
The programme has also enabled academics in the Arts to investigate new avenues of research with businesses. Dr Louise Mullany, Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics ran a workshop entitled ‘Effective Online Communications’, she commented: “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, added: “I am delighted that the Ingenuity team has been nominated for a THELMA award for their work on developing and delivering this programme. The success of the Arts-Business programme has really been an eye-opener for both businesses and academics like.
“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.”
For more details about the forthcoming Ingenuity events, visit www.ingenuitygateway.com