Academics taught how to woo firms for cash

January 19, 2001

The University of Central Lancashire is to teach its academic staff how to woo industry and win commercial business in a £30,000 training scheme.

Courses in areas such as business skills, negotiation, bidding and presentation will tempt academics to venture further into the commercial world.

Funding for the training, which is due to start at the beginning of March, will come from the £1.1 million awarded to the university to support its business-related work.

Paul Heald, director of business services, who is developing the programme, said: "These courses will address the core skills that we believe people need to go to businesses, speak their language and get involved in commercially driven projects."

The courses will not be compulsory, but will focus instead on those academics who are interested in developing commercial skills.

Mr Heald said staff could reap many benefits from getting involved in commercial activity. "They gain reward and recognition, personal development and the opportunity to attract money to their faculties, while getting more involved with industry can actually spark new ideas and add value to current research," he said.

However, Mr Heald admitted that different staff would need different levels of training. "The business school will have a contingent of experienced business people, while academics in, say, science, may find it more difficult," he said.

But Mr Heald argued that all faculties have the potential to generate commercial revenues, however unlikely it may seem. "Some faculties will be more attuned than others, but for most areas of expertise there will be some valid reason for looking for commercial work."

Certain areas, he added, will be more geared to providing services to other public sector organisations rather than private industry.

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