Universities offer postgraduate IT expertise to local businesses

Corporate IT departments stand to benefit from knowledge transfer with their local universities, which are reaching out as never...

Corporate IT departments stand to benefit from knowledge transfer with their local universities, which are reaching out as never before to local businesses in response to sharp government cuts in funding for pure research.

Events such as the one-day seminar set up by the Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College for local businesses in High Wycombe on 18 June, called Getting IT Right, are becoming more common.

David Rippon, professor of IT infrastructure management at the college, who will lead the seminar, was formerly IT director of Times 100 company Land Securities. He will be encouraging IT departments to use the knowledge transfer programme funded by the Department of Trade & Industry, which enables postgraduate students to go into businesses to help them do something they otherwise could not have done.

Rippon is keen to enable local businesses to benefit from university-developed software that automatically checks the quality of large numbers of digital photographic images and also compresses images to a smaller footprint than JPeg.

Knowledge transfer is the most structured way of using the resources of the local university, says Rippon, although it is also possible to have research contracts with local businesses, or engage staff for consultancy.

Under the DTI's knowledge transfer scheme, businesses pay £15,000 a year for a postgraduate to work with them and all other overheads and insurances are covered by the college.

"I was only peripherally aware of this sort of thing while at Land Securities," said Rippon. "It is a cheap way of getting resources."

Unfortunately, the DTI has heavily bureaucratic rules, and IT directors who want to take on students under the scheme have to convince the DTI that they will be doing something that could not otherwise have been done by the company. Few organisations are currently embarking on change projects, even with the benefit of cheap resources but Rippon aims to do his best to help his local businesses through such hoops.

For details of David Rippon's Getting IT Right seminar e-mail cac@bcuc.ac.uk

More on the government's knowledge transfer scheme www.ktponline.org.uk


On 14 July David Rippon will take part in a high-powered course organised by the British Computer Society, the Institute for the Management of Information Systems and the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, in partnership with the Institute of Directors, about how business needs to own and manage IT projects.


This was first published in June 2003



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