As Managing Director of Caja, a leading business services consultancy working across public, private, health and education sectors, Caroline Brown has big plans for her business.
That is why, in 2017, she moved Caja to Keele University’s Science & Innovation Park, and in doing so, she gave her business more than just a new office. By relocating to the heart of the UK’s largest university campus, she gave her business quick and easy access to Keele’s world-leading research, knowledgeable academics and experienced professional business support teams.
Caroline said: “Keele University is one of the best locations in Staffordshire for businesses to be based. Since moving to the Science and Innovation Park, we’ve found that it has given us additional credibility which has, in turn, enabled us to attract new clients and partners.
“At Caja, we pride ourselves on our business model – using our network of associates and partners to differentiate ourselves from larger and longer-established competitors. It’s a new model to the market that is proving to be a popular alternative. In fact, since relocating to Keele, we’ve grown our associate network by 50% to more than 150 associates and partners, increasing the amount of experienced resources available to provide agile and flexible business solutions to our clients.”
Accommodation and extra credibility are just two of the Keele factors that have contributed to Caja’s success. Shortly after relocating, Caroline was able to benefit first-hand from one of the University’s Business Gateway support programmes. She successfully applied to take part in the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL)* – a prestigious six-month, 12 session programme established to address distinctive organisational and leadership challenges for innovation-led, knowledge-intensive businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.
Speaking about her time on the MCIL programme, Caroline commented: “The programme was a great way to challenge our processes, look at the way others do things and think about how we can improve our ways of working. It definitely challenged my way of thinking, in particular about how we can offer our service to local SMEs, regional bodies and national organisations.
“Participation has not only developed me professionally, but it has enabled us to challenge our business strategy and plan for the future."
Caja is also participating in the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP)*, again through the Business Gateway, in which the company is working with the University to research how the use of artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning could potentially provide additional efficiencies to their clients.
Caja is one of more than 40 knowledge-intensive businesses that call Keele University Science and Innovation Park home. The unique and picturesque 70-acre site, fully integrated with the University campus, is one of the leading developments of its kind. It provides a mix of office, workshop and laboratory accommodation alongside bespoke opportunities, all of which have immediate and unrivalled access to the academic, research and commercial expertise that complements, challenges and improves businesses.
Caroline’s story is a prime example of how Keele University is using its world-leading knowledge, expertise and partnerships to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally. Through facilities such as the Science & Innovation Park and business support programmes such as MCIL and KRISP, Keele is helping to grow local businesses, create local jobs and support the local economy.
*The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (ref: 32R15P00229) and the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (ref: 32R16P00711) are part-funded from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds England Growth Programme 2014-2020.
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