Fostering collaboration

Fostering collaboration - Wilton Centre

After a great deal of diligent research, you’ve found the ideal location for your business, moved into your new premises and become part of the science park ecosystem. But choosing your accommodation is just the first step on the road to success; there are many other benefits associated with basing your business on a science park. In the first of a series of blogs, we talk to our Innovation Connector, Dr Mike Anderson, about the potential for our occupiers to enter into collaborations with other innovators, from members of the Knowledge Factory – a national network of science parks with occupiers ranging from start-ups to multi-billion pound publically-traded companies – to external organisations and leading universities.

What does the role of Innovation Connector involve?
As the Innovation Connector for the Knowledge Factory network, almost everything I do revolves around the concept of connecting people from a perspective of innovation. Our occupiers may not always be fully in the picture with the latest technological developments happening at other organisations in their region and further afield, and this is where I can offer support. Over my 30 years in the industry, I have built a network of contacts that I can tap into; I can suggest potential partners for our occupiers, whether they want access to a particular service or piece of equipment, or would like to enter into a joint development project. The possibilities are endless.

How do you encourage innovation and collaboration?
Raising awareness of novel ideas and process developments, and encouraging networking with like-minded individuals are the first steps along the pathway to successful collaborations. One way of doing this is to showcase the activities of other organisations. I liaise with universities across the UK to identify those with expertise in areas of interest to our occupiers and, at the same time, raise awareness of the benefits the science park ecosystem offers for university spin-outs.

Does the Knowledge Factory provide networking opportunities?
We encourage knowledge sharing at our parks by staging events such as the ‘Wilton Wednesday’ – a monthly lunchtime networking event – where we invite two or three speakers from different organisations to give short presentations. The topics are subjects that we feel might be of interest to our occupiers, such as knowledge transfer partnerships and new projects specifically targeted at companies in the bioeconomy. You never know when you are going to need help or where that help might come from, and people are often surprised to discover what is going on right on their doorstep! It is not uncommon to find that discussions starting from networking events can result in a successful collaboration that might otherwise not have happened. Undoubtedly, the science park ecosystem helps to foster this.