A swift review of practices in Cambridge University and elsewhere to understand the keys to success in secondment and other forms of staff transfer between academia and industry.  A fascinating exploration of the whys and hows of a whole variety of relationships between Cambridge and its partners, I’ve extracted several key messages that will help the University to design their new secondment programme, due to start in early 2014.  Interesting also to see how industry gets the best value from the research they fund with the University and how best to get result embedded.  The big wins seem to arise when academics develop a deep understanding of the realities of their industrial partners and then find new and very rewarding opportunities.  Some see it as lucky serendipity – but the best people manage for it.

 

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Just finished the first phase of a really rewarding project working with a Czech controls company, a global leader in their field, helping them to refine their R&D and NPD processes to underpin their new market strategy and to think through the organisational implications.  We worked up draft designs for their budgeting, R&D and NPD processes and, over the next few months, we will roll these out in conjunction with a revised product strategy.  They are adopting roadmapping as a way of planning and co-ordinating platforms and products across their markets and developing project management processes for projects of all scales – from platform development to a quick customisation job.  We also worked through the organisation and change management implications for roll-out.

 

Working within a youthful company with a strong corporate culture of innovation and responsiveness, it’ll be fun to develop new ways of working and prototype them via their multidisciplinary task force.  That’s next.

What are the primary technologies needed by the UK rail supply chain to respond to the Rail Technology Strategy?  What capabilities can be imported from adjacent sectors?  And what actions might be taken to strengthen the supply chain to enable ‘UK plc’ to develop a world-class railway and compete in international markets?

I subcontracted to the Arthur D Little / WS Atkins team that addressed these and other questions for the Engineering Innovation Team – the reports can be found at www.futurerailway.org/eit/Pages/Strategic-Programmes.aspx

Complex issues, technology projection coupled with evolving business models, sector strategy meets innovation strategy with government, industry and corporate players, creating a picture of a possible future, and all this among many stakeholders of widely varying viewpoints.