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Our Work

A Sample of Our Recent Projects

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PhD Cohort Programme

UK Centre for Mammalian Synthetic Biology (UKCMSB)

Skillfluence designed a programme of 8 workshops that are delivered to each cohort of students over the course of their PhD. The training complements the standard University of Edinburgh offering providing an enhanced range of training designed specifically for PhD students in the field of synthetic biology. The sessions are responsive to scheduled events and opportunities so students can attend training to learn new skills prior to an event or opportunity and then have a chance to put their learning into practice.

Academic development CDT GCRF

University of Edinburgh Creativity@home

PhD students at UKCSMB will have a range of career options after their studies and will likely explore diverse career pathways. The unique training programme gives students valuable insight and transferable skills needed to succeed in their careers. Each workshop is designed specifically for this group of students and is delivered by knowledgeable, experienced facilitators and guest speakers who are experts in their field.

CDT PhD researchers

Social Media for Researchers Workshop

Workshop Topics include:

  • Working with Others
  • Collaboration and Multidisciplinary Working
  • Commercial Awareness: Working with Industry
  • From Bench to Market
  • The Innovative Researcher
  • Social Media for Researchers
  • Future Leaders
  • Progression Planning for Scientists

This is a living, breathing programme filled with real-world case studies, interactive elements and an ever-present link and synergy with the other elements of the PhD programme. The structure also provides opportunities for joint teaching and slight pivots to take advantage of pertinent developments.

What participants say:

“I have a much better understanding of how to engage with people online”                                                         

 “I now realise the power and capabilities of social media and that I need to update my Linked-in profile!”  

“The case studies were really inspirational. They really communicate the issues discussed”

“I thought it was a great day. Since then our new communications manager has had a meeting of all our social media users and tried to instil some best practice!”

 

EPSRC Creativity@home Initiative

Edinburgh Centre for Robotics

Working closely with Edinburgh Centre for Robotics we designed and ran a 2 day EPSRC creativity@home workshop for their PhD students. The Centre’s main programme is the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Robotics and Autonomous Systems.  Its goal is to train innovation-ready robotics researchers to be part of a multi-disciplinary enterprise. Participants receive broad training to enable them to engage meaningfully with a wide cross-section of the robotics community. Achieving impact with robotics also requires non-technical skills, for example an understanding of technology translation, creativity and entrepreneurial processes.

creativity@home toolkit

Creative Thinking Tools & Techniques

The primary aim of this project was to provide PhD researchers with a toolkit for creative thinking and problem solving that they could apply to their research.  A secondary objective was to consider the broader impact their research could have on the world and society. The workshop was fast paced, intellectually stimulating and highly interactive bringing an evidence based approach to idea generation and design thinking, and how these tools could be applied to develop solutions to real challenges in robotics.

Day 1 started with Professor David Lane setting the scene and providing context on RAS2020 and future opportunities and drivers in robotics. Participants were then exposed to a suite of proven creative thinking and ideation tools and processes and practiced applying these tools to develop possible solutions to real challenges.

A key aspect of our training approach is to give researchers the opportunity to apply what they learn. This increases the impact, retention and the likelihood of application in their daily work, well after the training is over.

On Day 2 teams identified real problems and then built a creative thinking framework to generate ideas for how to use research to solve these problems.  The teams explored ideas big and small and used  lean canvas to outline strategies for real-world application that would have significant positive impact on society.   The lean canvas allowed the groups to test whether their ideas might be viable as a business, which the researchers found to be a particularly useful exercise. 

At the of of Day 2 we explored how to pitch complex ideas to a non-technical audience.  The teams learned and used the Skillfluence pitching framework to present the new concepts to their peers and a panel of judges.  The ideas presented addressed a wide range of major societal challenges from over-crowded cities to more effectively managing air traffic control.  The “winning” idea was a methodology and innovation in permaculture with potentially significant impact.

What participants said:  

“It was great to learn a structured approach to creativity: good for starting projects, literature reviews, project management and developing product/engineering ideas.”

Edinburgh University Centre for Robotics Researchers

Researchers Creating Impact

“Being able to practice using the tools helped me fully understand the use and reach of these techniques.”

My PhD is sponsored by industry. Entrepreneurs skills certainly help handling communications and I can imagine using skills for research but I’m mostly positive about using them for potential business ideas post PhD.

“There was nice environment created for creativity, which is difficult to achieve in a training course context.”

“Both trainers were excellent. Knowledgeable, friendly, approachable and great at presenting the ideas.”

 

Spin out, start up and entrepreneurship skills

Innovation BioCamp
Researchers and entrepreneurs

Innovation BioCamp 2017

The BioRenewables Development Centre in York contracted Skillfluence to facilitate two, one week residential Innovation Biocamps. This is a European project from BioBase4SME and InterReg designed to support early stage entrepreneurs in the Bioeconomy and accelerate growth. Skillfluence worked with the BDC to design the programme, we facilitated the week long programme, delivering workshops and coordinating with speakers and mentors. The first Innovation BioCamp ran in July 2017 with 20 delegates.

Delegates participated in a wide range of workshops delivered by Skillfluence trainers. Topics included Lean Startup, Value Proposition, Leadership Skills, Customer Discovery, Innovation and Ideation, Communications Strategy and Pitching to Investors. Skillfluence also facilitated input from expert speakers in finance, regulation, intellectual property, board membership as well as coordinating 1-2-1 sessions with mentors, Intellectual Property specialists and peer to peer learning.

Centre for Doctoral training

Innovation BioCamp

What participants said:

“The trainers were very well prepared and with fantastic experience to share.”

“Excellent interaction throughout the week, very dynamic & accommodating.”

“Alison and Kev are fabulous! Amazing presenters, highly engaging. They made the overall experience so enjoyable. They have so much experience and knowledge to share.  They were a great support.”

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre

Graduate Leadership Programme
Centre for Doctoral Training CDT

SAIC Graduate Leadership Programme

Skillfluence designed an 18 month programme of workshops and industry visits to develop the leadership skills of a cohort of aquaculture graduates working in industry. This training programme, which covers a wide variety of topics, gives them valuable insight into their own strengths, weaknesses and transferable skills they need to succeed in their future careers.

A combination of workshops, a learning journal, CPD portfolio and coaching are used to give participants the chance to learn from each other, reflect and develop long term skills for career progression.

 

Presenting your science (to scientists & non-scientists)

Scottish Universities Life Science Association (SULSA)
Centre for Doctoral Training CDT

SULSA Researcher Development

This workshop for PhD students gave participants a  chance to learn how to speak clearly and vividly about their work and why it matters, in ways that can engage varied audiences, especially those outside their own field.  The session was fast-paced, interactive and informal to encourage active participation and to ensure everyone was felt comfortable practicing their presentation skills. Participants were given a series of hands on exercises to explore a range of flexible and engaging techniques to deliver their message.

One simple, but valuable, outcome of the workshop was that students became confident responding to the question “What do you do?” by developing and practising their personal elevator pitch. The workshop used specific examples relevant to the PhD students’ areas of research which helped to demonstrate real-world utility in the concepts they learned throughout the day.

What participants said:

“Great that it was so interactive. Really kept our attention!” 

“The pace of delivery was great – the time really flew by!”

“The workshop flowed very well and I especially enjoyed the interactive side of things.” 

“Very good session.  Loved the large proportion of team work.” 

Skillfluence programmes are developed and delivered by a team of professional trainers, coaches and content developers passionate about providing learning and development services that deliver real impact.  Meet the Skillfluence Team