Business Engagement Sector ‘Deep Dives’

The Business Engagement COP have led a series of Aspect-funded projects focused on developing good practice in and exploring challenges related to industry and academic engagement in social sciences. These included four sector deep dives, two ‘challenge workshops’, and the BE Ideas Box Pilot Project. 

Sector Deep Dives

While there are a breadth of industries where social sciences (SocSci) can add value, the four sectors chosen as focus points for ‘deep dives’: Creative Industries, FinTech, Legal Tech, and Health Tech. Through workshops, interviews, surveys and research, COP members – together with social scientists and industry representatives – collaborated to develop useful and insightful guidance on how to encourage engagement between academics and businesses in these sectors. 

  • Creative Industries (University of Manchester & University of York) – An investigation into activities between SocSci academics and the creative industries in the Northwest of England highlighted a plethora of activity in this area. The creative industries overall report a value in engaging with academics due to mutual interests and benefits.
  • FinTech (University of Glasgow & University of Bristol) – Interviews with several small to medium companies and workshops with representatives from the sector highlighted an awareness of the value of social sciences but a lack of time, incentives, and knowledge to engage with professor-level academics.
  • Legal Tech (LSE & University of Manchester) – A review of engagement and collaboration between law and industry at LSE and the University of Manchester. Discussions in this deep dive highlighted different approaches at both LSE and Manchester, and perceptions about the value to universities and academics, and law firms
  • Health Tech (Aberystwyth University) – Through interviews, survey, and workshops, this deep dive explores the challenges faced by health-tech companies in the development and adoption of their technologies, and the ways in which collaboration with social science researchers might benefit this process.  Insights can be used to inform an approach to business engagement with the health-tech industry that highlights the valuable contributions social sciences research can make and, in the process, breaks down barriers that are inhibiting further engagement with the field.

Challenge Workshops

  • Funding Challenges Workshop Report: A workshop with COP members explored how funding mechanisms can best fit the needs of social scientists, to ensure that social science businesses engagement is given the same encouragement and recognition as other disciplines within universities and by funders.   
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in SocSci BE: The COP commissioned a small independent review to explore how a sub-set of members are addressing issues of equality, diversity and inclusion in social sciences business engagement. 

Pilot project

  • Business Engagement Ideas Box (University of York):Engagement with the business sector can add real strength to social sciences research activity and deliver significant, measurable and sustainable impact. However, the path from social sciences research, though engagement and partnership building, to the development and exploitation of business and commercialisation opportunities contains many obstacles. This project tackles three of the key challenges: Peer learning, Academic engagement and Institutional support structures.