We welcome research collaborations with business organisations. These can take a number of forms which vary in the extent to which the work addresses broad research issues or specific concerns of a collaborative partner, and the extent to which the work is funded by the partner or by government or other funding bodies.
Research Council Funded Collaboration
As a university research centre, many of our activities are funded by UK research councils and other research funding bodies including EU funders. Such research projects might last from one to five years (typically three) and employ a number of researchers and fund PhD students.
To encourage the relevance and uptake of our work we often conduct these research projects in collaboration with one or more commercial (or public sector) partners. This can provide us with real-world contexts to study whilst also providing a partner organisation with access to research output relevant to them. The contribution of the partner organisation is usually 'in kind', meaning that they provide access to study situations and/or data. The theme of this kind of research is directed towards questions of interest to the wider research community.
In the past, The User Centred Interactive Search with Digital Libraries project involved working with with industry partners such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (a multi-national law form), LexisNexis Butterworths (a large publishing house and developer of digital legal information resources) and Proquest (a large publisher and digital library developer). The CHI+MED project involved discussions on research priorities with manufacturers of medical devices such as B. Braun, Baxter and Carefusion. The Emo-Pain project also led to further collaborations with the NHS on technology for managing chronic pain.
Currently, Yvonne Rogers is the lead PI on the VoiceViz project with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), which recently saw the launch of the DRIVE (Digital Research, Informatics and Virtual Environments) lab - a brand new living lab where novel technology interventions can be investigated and evaluated in a safe environment to see how they might be effectively used by clinicians and patients.
Prof Cathy Holloway is the Academic Director of the GDI Hub (Global Disability Innovation Hub), which was launched in 2016. The GDI Hub is now leading a £10m global programme on Life Changing Assistive Technology for All, working with partners such as Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Sadlers Wells and the V&A to test new approaches and backing 'what works' to get Assistive Technologies to those who need it.
Knowledge Transfer Partnership
KTP (or Knowledge Transfer Partnership) is offered by the DTI (UK Department of Trade and Industry) to promote collaboration between 'Knowledge Bases,' such as universities, and industry or public organisations. The KTP scheme works by the Knowledge Base employing a graduate or graduates to work on a project that is strategically important to the company or organisation. The project can last between 1 and 3 years (usually 2) - if 3 years then the graduate can register for a PhD at UCL (subject also to meeting the normal academic criteria for doing a PhD of course).
KTPs typically cost ~£120K per annum for a project in London, of which Innovate UK will pay 67% for an SME or 50% for a larger company and the business partner then pays the rest. This represents very good value for the company.
The scheme is based on the benefits for the company or organisation, the Knowledge Base and the graduate who does the work (The Associate). Keys points are:
- The project must be of strategic importance to the company, and
- There must be a significant element of academic challenge in the project.
UCL has about a dozen KTP schemes at the moment. Departments that have participated in the past include Computer Science, UCL Statistical Science and the IoE. UCL Physics & Astronomy and UCL Chemical Engineering have also been involved.
In recent years, UCL has been awarded about 35 programmes to the total value of about £4M. One of these was a KTP with PassivSystems and Dr Paul Marshall and collaborators in the Computer Science Dept which focused on improving energy usage monitoring devices and ran for 2 years until October 2014.
There is a UCL KTP team that are part of UCL Innovation and Enterprise who co-ordinate KTP activities with UCL and provide a support service for those departments participating, including UCLIC. There is further information on the UCL's Innovation and Enterprise website, or you can email the KTP team.
UCLIC staff are an excellent resource for consulting. Many thousands of pounds have been invested in the knowledge and expertise we have acquired and we can offer consultancy services in a number of areas related to Human Computer Interaction. Many staff are regularly involved in organizing or contributing to workshops to transfer knowledge and techniques to Industry in providing consultancy on specific projects.
Please note that:
- UCL is a not-for-profit organisation. If engaged in collaborative bids to funding organisations, all UCL's costs (direct and indirect) need to be covered.
- We do not have a huge pool of staff waiting for work; every member of staff is funded by a particular project. Using their time involves either buying it out or recruiting additional staff.