June 9, 2022, by aczjb1

Innovation doesn’t happen in isolation – YES collaborates with TALENT

This blog is written by Dr Hannah Noke, Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Haydn Green Institute. 

“Rethinking the future” is the mantra for the 2022 Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES).

For the past 27 years, teams of PhD candidates and post-docs have come together to learn how research ideas can be commercialised and attempt to deploy innovative science and engineering to address societal challenges and change the way we live.

But innovation doesn’t happen in isolation, and in 2022 YES is welcoming technicians onto the programme for the first time, partnering with Midlands Innovation TALENT to offer 20 funded places to MI technicians.

TALENT – a transformation programme funded by Research England and partners, and awarded to the Midlands Innovation consortium of universities, leading change to advance the status of, and opportunity for, the technical community, will team up with YES to deliver commercial awareness and enterprise skills training to technicians.

YES has delivered such training for 26 years, with over 6,300 PhD students and post-docs becoming part of the illustrious YES alumni group. However, with growing recognition of the important role technicians play within the University ecosystem, not least, in the process of knowledge exchange, YES felt it was only right to widen its remit.

Kelly Vere’s, Programme Director of TALENT explains the importance of this collaboration:

“Technical colleagues across UK higher education and research are vital to innovation and knowledge exchange. Despite this, technicians have historically experienced a lack of visibility and opportunity. Thanks to initiatives such as the sector wide Technician Commitment and the Research England funded TALENT programme, and a greater cultural emphasis on Team Science, this is beginning to change. We’re delighted to partner with YES to provide new experiences and professional development opportunities for technical staff, who make such critical contributions to our teams working across universities to deliver education and research outcomes.”

Ahead of the game was Laura Cowan, a technician at the University of Nottingham, who took part in YES21. Laura heard about the scheme and was interested in getting involved.

“I have always been interested in understanding how research can be translated into real world solutions that can make a difference, and when I heard of YES it sounded like an ideal way to discover how it was done,” said Laura. “It was a great experience to have a go at taking my scientific knowledge and challenging myself as to how it could be used in a product. Working with my fellow team-mates we had to build a business case for our hypothetical company and present it to a panel of judges – it was scary but terrific fun and I learned a lot.”

Laura’s experience opened her eyes to how research can have real-world impact and how technicians have an important role to play in knowledge exchange and commercialisation.

“To start with I didn’t feel that confident, especially as I was based in a group with PhD and post-docs, but it became clear that they didn’t always know all the answers either. We all learned so much about how commercialisation happens, as well as lots of transferrable skills that will certainly help me with my role as a technician in the future. You never know, I might even decide to start my own tech business in the future!”

Technicians contribute immensely to the knowledge exchange within universities, but their role is still one that is hidden and often isolated from the formal knowledge exchange activities that are undertaken.

TALENT has committed to changing this through supporting technicians to be recognised for their role and ensure that they receive the training and development required to support important activities going forward.

This year TALENT will be funding 20 technicians to attend YES – So technicians, it’s over to you! We need you – sign up to YES22 and rethink the future.

For more information visit: https://www.mitalent.ac.uk/The-YES-Programme

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