University of Sussex
The University of Sussex needed to achieve the following objectives:
- Doubling income generated from research to £54-million.
- Improving competitor performance for research quality – measured by securing a place among the top 20 UK universities in the next REF and by having at least half of the University’s REF submitted ‘units of assessment’ placed in the top 15.
- Increasing the number of research-leading staff (and of doctoral researchers) and developing a sustainable mass of research in selected fields of expertise.
- Creating three large interdisciplinary research centres.
Communications Management devised a strategy that would improve awareness of the University’s research expertise, and present a compelling case to interest, attract and engage potential funding partners from public sector, commercial organisations and policy makers.
The creation of a stream of more active (and funded) research projects will generate greater examples of the “impact” of the University of Sussex’s research. This “impact’ is one of the specific criteria by which the University’s research is measured and this measurement contributes directly to decisions on Government research funding (via the REF process). Stimulating greater levels of interest from potential research partners – and ultimately generating greater funded research projects with partners – is crucial to the success of the University in meeting its strategy and its research funding needs. Work undertaken included:
- Communications Management identified a list of primary research areas, (those that were most likely to present income generating opportunities for the university)
- A list of potential funders were mapped out to match the above
- A targeted communications plan was designed to engage and activate those audiences via their preferred channels and influencers.
- The University’s capacity to deliver on the research opportunities presented was assessed and prioritised.
- A report identifying priority research areas for external engagement and recommending who to engage with and how (along with other observations that will affect the effectiveness of this programme).
- An initial presentation to those directly concerned with this project and with the future implementation of a communications and engagement programme of work for research.
- Further presentations were given to wider members of the University of Sussex to explain the project, its findings and recommendations – and indicate practical steps to delivering the communications and engagement programme (supporting ‘buy-in’ across the University).