Skillfluence was founded to bring industry-centric skills and training to researchers. Since day one, our training and support products have focused on helping researchers develop skills and connections that will enhance their personal impact and that of their research.
In this blog, we are sharing more about the origins and evolution of Connecting with Industry. Since 2019, this flagship course has been delivered to over 500 participants.
Following the feedback and filling the gaps
In 2015, Skillfluence began engaging with and delivering training to the research community. Our training focused on many of the key aspects which are now part of Connecting with Industry, such as understanding businesses, communications, networking, and helping researchers identify and articulate their value to potential partners.
From feedback we identified that many of the participants were keen to understand some of the more practical aspects of building connections. Some of the questions we were seeing (and hearing) repeatedly included:
- How can I get my foot in the door? Where do I start?
- Where can I meet potential collaborators or employers?
- What do I say to a potential industry connection?
The core idea behind Connecting with Industry has always been to offer a programme that combines the key skillsets for engaging industry partners and addresses the very practical aspects to help address the very real questions, concerns and anxieties faced by researchers.
Evolving for impact
The original model was a 2-day in person programme that introduced tools and tips around the 6 key themes that are the pillars of the course today:
- Exploring opportunities to connect with industry
- Discovering where you add value in industry
- Speaking the language of business
- Communicating your value to industry
- Positioning yourself as an expert to industry
- Building meaningful relationships with industry
Feedback was strong. However, we found participants were keen for more time to explore and engage the tools and topics. We soon realized the scope for increased impact with an online delivery over a longer timeframe. We delivered the first iteration of Connecting with Industry as a blended learning course, helping researchers to bring their learning into their current situation. Run with Kings College London with an introductory and final session offline, the core elements were delivered in online weekly sessions. This approach saw increased engagement, opportunities to build cohorts and collaborations among participants, and, most importantly the opportunity to apply the learnings to participants research as the programme evolved.
And then the world changed…
Just as we were lining up our next iterations of the “blended” Connecting with Industry course the world gave us a little nudge. The arrival of coronavirus meant that in-room and group-based training was off the cards for at least a year.
This put the entire team into full gear to develop a replicable, impactful course that can help researchers from a broad range of disciplines to connect with industry…ALL on-line.
Now, Connecting with Industry is a 6-week course that comprises self–study lessons, live online workshops, downloadable resources, and application activities. Our live workshops have Conversations with Industry embedded, with industry conversations and insights as a core part of the learning journey.
Connecting to the future
As with all of our training we’ll be keeping our ear to the ground as our clients and participants needs evolve and the way we work and live changes, for example, we have now added a stronger emphasis on digital networking in our module on this topic.
As we look to the future we recognise that our research community will be facing new and distinct challenges around connecting with industry in a post pandemic world. We look forward to helping individuals rise to these challenges and build collaborations and contacts that will help them have positive impact and build the future.
Join us next week as we explore what industry representatives that we have worked with say about our Connecting with Industry programme.