Partnerships with consortia
Aston University’s Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry Department (CEAC) is successful in building partnerships with consortia to support collaborative research and knowledge transfer.
The University’s Research and Enterprise Office identify new collaborative partners and highlight funding opportunities. They work closely with existing company partners to integrate academic activities with the commercial R&D strategies of partner companies. This approach has enabled CEAC to form long-lasting and meaningful partnerships.
The University also operates an account management approach with key strategic partners. This helps the University stand out in a crowded market by ensuring that it is easy for organisations to engage and collaborate. It ensures the University is responsive to organisational needs and both parties achieve the most value out of the partnership. They identify key accounts that have multiple touch points with the University, including small and large, public and private, local, national and international organisations. An account manager is assigned to each company. Their role is to be a point of knowledge of the organisation, collect and share information, spot opportunities and pass them on to the relevant people.
The ability to build relationship with companies across both its teaching and research activities has been crucial to CEACs success. The culture at Aston involves activities at university, departmental and individual levels that ease the development of industrial relationships and encourages sharing of opportunities with our academic staff to maximise the chances of broader relationships developing.
CEAC has been particularly successful in developing consortia-based research projects through InnovateUK and Horizon2020 funding. Notable projects include CASCATBEL and ESTABLIS. Both projects feature EU industry and academic consortia. Aston played a key role in sourcing the industry partners, and ensuring that the proposed research meets the needs of industry, the academic partners and the requirements of the funder.
The CASCATBEL project aims to develop a process for the production of second-generation biofuels in a cost-efficient way. Industry partners in this project were Silkem, a European manufacturer of raw materials; MAST Carbon International, an independent company based in the UK; Outotec, a global leader in minerals and metals processing technology; and Eni – a global leader in the energy field. The ESTABLIS project aims to harvest solar energy by employing 15 researchers to create stable organic solar cells. Industry Partners are Merck and Heraeus Precious Metals GmbH&Co.