A forward-thinking initiative at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) which helps businesses meet their commercial challenges through academic and student-led problem solving has been shortlisted for a national award.
The Creative Innovation Zone (CIZ), based within the Faculty of Culture and Creative Industries, has been selected as a finalist in the ‘Team of the Year’ category of the 2021 KE Awards.
Seventeen finalists have been confirmed for this year’s KE Awards, sponsored by UKRI, across six award categories. The awards embody the high standards of UK Knowledge Exchange (KE) and celebrate the people, partnerships, deals and initiatives that generate this world-class activity.
Commenting on the recognition UCLan’s Emma Speed, Director of Enterprise within the Creative Innovation Zone, said: “This is fantastic news for the CIZ team and is indicative of how thinking creatively and working in an interdisciplinary way can make a big impact on industry, communities and our team.
“UCLan is a University which thinks differently and as a result delivers unique and dynamic knowledge transfer initiatives.”
All CIZ activities are managed in-house within an agency style framework. The CIZ team has a 5-step process to triage employer challenges and match them with the right combination of academics and students.
Unusual pairings of courses working with contrasting industries is a feature of the UCLan initiative. Examples include:
- Engineering and nursing students completing a gap analysis for BAE Systems.
- Marketing and history students redesigning the high street.
- Journalism and sociology students collaborating with Age UK.
- Fashion promotion and business students diversifying product ranges for playground manufacturers.
The KE Awards received more than 60 entries this year, all of a high quality and impact, making the judges role of assessing and shortlisting more challenging than ever.
Dr David Secher, PraxisAuril, Patron and Chair of KE Awards judging panel, said: “The judges had some very difficult choices to make this year. Despite looking back on a year dominated by COVID, Knowledge Exchange professionals submitted a large number of important and innovative case studies, demonstrating the impact of effective knowledge exchange in a time of pandemic.”
Dr Tony Soteriou, Director of Commercialisation, UKRI added: “UKRI would like to congratulate all of the finalists of the PraxisAuril KE Awards. In what has been a challenging year for everyone, the work of all the finalists helps demonstrate the powerful role knowledge exchange plays in delivering benefits locally, nationally and in some cases internationally to the economy and society. UKRI is proud to support such a vibrant community by sponsoring the PraxisAuril KE Awards in 2021.” Winners will be announced at a dedicated, digital awards ceremony on 18 November 2021 at 4.00pm.