Ways in which our undergraduates could work with regional businesses to the benefit of both were examined at a promotional event held on campus.

The Innovation, Research and Development Showcase – the first knowledge transfer event of its kind we have ever held – highlighted the advanced level of academic research and trials being carried out through University Centre Reaseheath (UCR). It was aimed at encouraging mutually beneficial collaborations which would allow undergraduates to carry out high quality research projects and problem solving for companies and in return gain essential industry experience.

Held in our Centre for Horticulture, the Environment and Sustainable Technology, the event drew representatives from small and medium businesses from across the region and has led to what will hopefully be fruitful further discussion.

Welcoming our visitors, Rachel Ellis-Jones, Assistant Principal and Dean of HE, said that the event was being held to show businesses the scope of work produced by HE students and how best they could use research and development opportunities by working in partnership with UCR.

She emphasised that Ofsted had commended Reaseheath for its strong links with local and national employers, and that the next step would be to add value to those partnerships through collaborative projects.

Reaseheath had invested in industry standard facilities in horticulture, agri-tech and food processing, and undergraduates and staff were already carrying out scientific research within the food supply chain and for natural flood management.

Research and development could be carried out by undergraduates as work experience for small and medium businesses which might not have the manpower or finances to support these from its own resources. In some cases this had already proved successful, with results being taken on board and applied in company operations. On the strength of this, some students had been offered jobs with the company once they had graduated.

Rachel commented: “We need to find effective ways of working together and bringing new technology to market. We hope that this event will stimulate interest among businesses and that it will lead to the productive use of our undergraduates’  talents and skills.”

Simon Burgess, Business Development Manager at the Centre for Research in Environmental Sciences and Technologies at University Centre Shrewsbury, a federated partner, pointed out that Reaseheath and similar academic centres could also help with regulation and legislation compliance, funding opportunities and the management of intellectual properties.

The attendees were then free to engage with undergraduates who were displaying research posters and keen to describe their research and trial work. Students taking degrees in equine science, animal science, food and horticulture were involved, with research ranging from the effects of weather and climate change on African penguins to the production of roses for the cut flower market.

We also offered ‘drop in’ sessions on virtual reality and drone technology, glasshouse tours and a virtual tour of Reaseheath’s resources and facilities. Optional presentations were given by Janet Nuzum (ERDF Business Advisor), John Sorsby (Head of Reaseheath’s Food Centre), Louise Swindells (Reaseheath graduate and British Equestrian Trade Association ‘Thesis of the Year’ winner), Yvette Fould-Davis (HE Programme Leader in Animal Sciences) and Mark Biddulph (Programme Leader in Agriculture).

Sara Evans and Kelvin Lawson of Lisden Technology, a software development company in Chester with expertise in animal borne devices, were paying their first visit to Reaseheath. Sara said: “This has opened our eyes to potential research and collaboration opportunities which could be really beneficial to our business moving forward and to finding new applications of our technology.”

For more on how we can help your business through research and collaboration, please contact Liz Griffiths 01270 616462  Liz.Griffiths@reaseheath.ac.uk