Glass Opens Window of Opportunity
TLEO has launched its new web portal which has been designed by digital communications agency, Glass. Its aim is to encourage businesses to make better use of the London Metropolitan university’s resources.
For many, the relationship between businesses and education extends to little more than the two weeks spent by an eager 14 year-old on work experience making tea and photocopying.
However, The London Enterprise Office (TLEO), the entrepreneur arm of London Metropolitan University is hoping to address this by allowing businesses to better communicate with its staff and students. TLEO has launched its new web portal which has been designed by digital communications agency, Glass. Its aim is to encourage businesses to make better use of the university’s resources.
Social Net, Working
The site will incorporate many Web 2.0 features, with interaction and engagement key features. Based around a group networking structure, profiles of staff and students will be made available. These will also be fully searchable, so that potential partners and clients can easily locate relevant students, faculty and resources.
Business can directly interact with students, but if the enquiry leads to work with the students, it will be processed through the Careers Development and Employment Service. The service has a strong track record of developing successful frameworks with employers.
The site will also give students and staff the opportunity to promote their skills and ideas. According to the TLEO, the aim is not only to help the university gain funding for projects, but also act as a resource in its own right.
Applying Theory to Business
"We believe this is a unique offering in the sector today, something that sets us apart. Engagement between higher education and business is beginning to happen in a big way," said Dr Jennie Somerville, Director of TLEO.
"As knowledge producers and educators, universities are being urged to contribute to the knowledge economy by government and other policy makers. Meanwhile, business is being encouraged to invest in and use the resources of university expertise. The web site is an important tool in bringing our university resources and businesses closer together," she added.
The website has already been used on a number of projects from a range of markets although the TLEO expects businesses from creative industries to make most use of the site.
“Predominantly, we expect companies to be from the creative industries and IT sector, but any sector where there are young dynamic employees very familiar with web 2.0 technology,” said Dr Somerville.
Test for Universities
Stephen Whaley, Head of Applied Research and Consultancy at the University of Westminster agrees that businesses should be encouraged to interact more with universities. However, Whaley believes that universities have to be clear of their objectives in order to meet the needs of businesses.
“The problem of some universities is that they are unsure of their goal from any engagement with businesses. University sites are often only a showcase for businesses and cannot facilitate conversation – an integral step to any deal between potential partners. Universities can also find it difficult to sell a piece of research unless it has been specifically designed for a particular company as many projects are not specific enough. The challenge for universities is whether they can work out how to monetise what they produce.
“However, the website is a move in the right direction as it can help companies have a dynamic interaction with the university. Ultimately, the university’s biggest asset in this case is its students – either for future employment or to help on projects and this is an excellent opportunity for both businesses and students to work together,” he said.