Leading academic completes 100th business support project

Dr Colin Rigby, a Senior Lecturer at Keele Business School, has recently reached the significant milestone of supporting the growth and development of 100 Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire businesses since 2017.

As part of the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP)*, Dr Rigby has offered expert advice and innovative solutions to local organisations in his role as Academic Advisor.

The programme, now in its second iteration, provides support to small-to-medium sized businesses in the region that are looking to develop a new product, process or service. To date, the Programme has supported over 250 businesses across a wide range of sectors, providing business consultancy and academic knowledge, as well as additional resources in the form of a student or recent graduate under the guidance of a Research and Innovation Advisor and Academic expert.

Dr Rigby was the first member of academic staff to support the programme, both in terms of academic supervision and working directly with the project team to make the overall experience better for the companies and student associates.

The first project he worked on was with software research and development company BitJam. Since completing the programme, the company has grown its client base, won numerous business awards, expanded its team and relocated to larger premises on Keele University’s Science and Innovation Park.

Speaking about his experiences with the programme, Dr Rigby said: “The projects create a situation where everybody wins: businesses win as they get support and resources to resolve a problem that they may have struggled to solve otherwise; students win as they get to work on a genuine real-world project that will boost their career prospects, and academics win as we get to use our knowledge and experience to benefit others.

“At the start of any project, it's a little daunting for all parties as we go through how we are going to take an idea or problem forward, but for me that’s my favourite part - it's the way we can work with the business to refine an idea, bringing our expertise and rigour to the table to get the best out of everyone involved, adding even more value to the company than the original idea.

Colin-teaching-in-sih 440px “In the 100 projects that I’ve had the privilege of assisting, there has been a wide range of innovations across many sectors, although there have been true some standout projects. One that springs to mind is working with Risual, where we reviewed their sales strategy by applying new research and techniques via neuroscience and neuromarketing. Today, Risual are continuing to grow and it was challenging and exciting for me as an academic to look at ways in which research can really bring out the best of this project. The same can be said for the students who worked in the company - they went from being relatively timid and shy to running complex meetings in front of Risual’s sales team.

“As well as helping to develop our local businesses, the past three years have also seen the programme develop too. As a team, we have refined processes and now have a really strong blueprint that we can take to all types of innovative businesses to help them identify new ideas and push them forward.”

To find out more about how your business can develop new ideas with Keele University’s Research and Innovation Support Programme, enquire today at keele.ac.uk/krisp.

Not sure how your business could benefit from a collaboration with Keele University? Take a look at some of the opportunities available through the Business Gateway at keele.ac.uk/business.


ERDF landscape logo The Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme is delivered through the Keele University Science and Innovation Park Smart Innovation Hub (Project reference 32R17P01691). This programme is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.