A Pro-Vice Chancellor at Aston University has been honoured with a prestigious innovation prize at the annual Lord Stafford Awards.
John Bailey, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer at Aston, has devoted his career to creating closer links between industry and business. He was presented with the Knowledge Transfer Champion Award in front of VIP's from across the West Midlands at an awards dinner at Worcester Cathedral on Thursday 13th November.
John joined Aston in 1976 and has since worked on a number of pioneering initiatives. One of his first tasks was to set up the University’s industrial placement programme which has helped to place more than 400 students each year in various disciplines. It has become a pioneering model still used by universities for sandwich courses, which allow students to combine academic study alongside relevant work-based placements.
In 2000, John set up the Business Partnership Unit (BPU) at Aston, which has helped to bridge the gap between business and academia, providing an interface between the University’s expertise and resources for the business community.
The BPU has secured more than £30 million from a diverse range of funds and has seen the creation of 10 spin-out companies, 65 active patents and around 100 knowledge transfer projects over the past five years.
“I am delighted to receive the Lord Stafford Award, especially having worked with many companies down the years who have been previous winners,” said John.
“I think this is really a reflection of the work and vision of Aston University as much as anything.
“Some people think that university staff live in ivory towers and never consider, let alone assist, business and the wider community around them.
“There may have been an element of truth in that in times gone by, but in recent years there has been a huge difference in the relationship which has really blossomed.
“Universities, including Aston, have not only been able to ensure that businesses are run more effectively, but have undoubtedly saved a number of companies from going under.”
Judges were impressed particularly by the efforts of John in developing the regional INDEX (Innovation Delivers Expansion) voucher scheme under which companies can apply for £3,000 worth of academic support from one of the 13 universities in the West Midlands.
INDEX (derives from Innovation Delivers Expansion) launched in Spring 2007 and there have already been more than 600 applications for the vouchers and the concept is now being proposed nationally to promote closer links between universities and companies.
Companies can be given assistance ranging from around two days from a renowned professor to two-to-three weeks of on-the-job help from other staff.
Lord Stafford, Patron of the Awards, said: “The Lord Stafford Awards seeks to showcase collaboration between universities and businesses, and it is fair to say that without the efforts of people like John there would be far less excellent work happening.
“John has effectively spent his whole career not only helping bridge the divide between commerce and academia, but also developing innovative programmes and initiatives to improve ways of doing just that.
“I am delighted that John has been recognised with the Lord Stafford Knowledge Transfer Champion Award – he really is a worthy winner and I wish him the warmest congratulations.”
The Lord Stafford Awards, now in their 11th year, seek to encourage the development of collaborative relationships between universities and business in many different disciplines.
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