James develops his insight into the impact agenda and commercialisation of research

James Bemrose, spoke to UEA Research and Innovation services during the PIPS Employer Forum. James wanted to expand his knowledge of commercialisation and the process in which scientific knowledge is transferred to government and industry. In addition, he wanted to further his ability to communicate with a wide range of audiences external from academia such as people working in industry.

James undertook his placement during his second year, which he found to be excellent timing as he had already produced a large amount of data and so was able to free up the time for the internship without any great impact to his progress.

James’ primary responsibility during the placement was to produce Technology opportunity -flyers for portals that connect interested industry collaborators and licensees with technologies produced by UEA academics. James’ role was to produce concise descriptions of scientific inventions that would be accessible to members of industry and potential other groups. James completed around 25 of these, across a diverse range of subject disciplines so had to liaise with academic staff to ensure understanding of the subject, make sure technical details were correct and address/remove any commercially sensitive information. Additionally, James helped collate information for the HEBCIS review, pulling together information on institutions that have downloaded free software produced by UEA academics. Finally, James was involved in producing academics’ applications for the UEA Innovation & Impact Awards bringing together their research into the application format.

James has gained many skills as a result of his placement. “I have improved my writing both generally and to a non-academic audience – this is of particular importance to me, and one of my primary aims”, reflects James. James also appreciated the interaction with academics in different parts of the university from a different perspective to that of a PhD student. James learnt about the challenges of working with sensitive information; “One particular challenge was producing work with sensitive and confidential information ensuring that nothing is included that shouldn’t be. This was especially challenging when elements of work were redacted”.

James felt he increased in confidence as he felt he achieved a lot in a new environment in a relatively short period of time. Problem solving was a significant part of the process and James also feels he has developed these skills. James’ communication skills improved through his interactions with non-academics and academics from different parts of the university.

Overall, James found the placement to be a very positive experience. He encourages future PIPS students to go in with an open-mind; “Don’t be afraid to do something that sounds out of your depth or very different, there will be someone to help you and support you”.

James’ host, Joita Dey was also very happy with the placement; “James did an excellent job of preparing the technology flyers, the entries for the UEA Innovation & Impact Awards and the data for the HEBCI’s survey. Working in a new environment and in a completely different role takes some time itself, let alone produce work of any value. James however was work-ready and productive from day one and the work completed by him has been of benefit to UEA. The technology flyers brought new industry contacts , the submissions to the UEA Innovation & Impact Awards were shortlisted and awarded prizes, the data for HEBCI’s was also included in the annual submission from UEA. We enjoyed having James in our team and hope that the internship gave him all he wished for to progress his future career”.