Gain a graduate project manager
• Boost profits • Achieve sustainable growth • Increase the efficiency of your workforce …by working with a West Midlands university
The KEEN project gives regional organisations access to the best graduate talent around the West Midlands in order to grow their business and profitability. The scheme is quick to set-up, partsubsidised and low-risk; great news for companies who need a little support in order to maximise their potential.
Marc Fleetham, KEEN Regional Director
The Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise Network (KEEN) helps West Midlands-based small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) increase profitability and growth through working with a regional university. KEEN works by putting a recent graduate (known as an Affiliate) into an organisation to work on a strategic growth project, with on-going support from experienced university experts. Organisations
benefit from part-funding by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), allowing them to recruit talented graduates and access cutting edge university knowledge throughout the duration of the project. A 12 month KEEN project will cost from £15,969. There is flexibility within the Affiliate salary range, enabling the company to appoint at various points on a generous scale.
Enigma Recovery benefitted from University expertise in software development using different platforms, including Android and iOS operating systems. The in-house software development capabilities meant its products exceeded original expectations. This has attracted funding from investors and the company has rapidly expanded the scope of its projects. Enigma Recovery is now in a position to develop its team further to include new skills and capabilities with support from Coventry University.
Collaborating with Coventry University under the KEEN project has brought in the highest level of software development, which was out of our budget range. This now gives us a competitive edge against our competitors who outsource their development.
Lee Parry, CEO, Infinity Wireless Limited
Through the KEEN programme, Rapod has benefitted from Coventry University’s expertise in architecture, civil and structural engineering, building services, 3D computer modelling and marketing. Rapod was recently shortlisted as a finalist for an MEBC (Midlands Environmental Business Company) Business Success Award. Its office range was recognised for providing a high quality, innovative and affordable solution for people wanting to work from home.
The KEEN scheme has given me the opportunity to work on a really exciting project and gain experience in a wide array of disciplines. The support of the knowledgeable Coventry University staff and the use of their cutting edge facilities are ensuring that the Rapod Garden Rooms will be an incredible product, designed and built to the highest of standards.
Enigma Recovery is a small organisation within Infinity Wireless Ltd. The company has been developing software for data recovery from mobile devices. Having outsourced its software development capabilities to India to save costs in 2010, Enigma Recovery understood that they were needed in-house to meet customer demand promptly and effectively. To achieve this move, the company undertook a KEEN project with Coventry University, employing Michal Jirman as KEEN Affiliate.
WB Timber Innovations, who specialise in the design and construction of timber frame dwellings, spotted a gap in the garden building market and created a separate company, Rapod, to produce bespoke garden pods for various uses including offices, music rooms, entertainment areas and studios.
Michael Box, KEEN Affiliate, Rapod
KEEN offers a level of flexibility to organisations that are yet to realise their full potential. This is made possible through the transfer of knowledge into the business via a recent graduate who is recruited to work full-time on a growth project, developed in association with the university.
The project underpins the company’s aspiration to become an integrated provider of construction services, with more efficient project management capability and enhanced service provision, to a wider range of national clients. The capabilities embedded by the KEEN project are allowing Coen to defend existing markets, and expand significantly in both regional and national markets. The project is being managed by Steve Govette, who was recruited by the company as KEEN Affiliate.
The construction sector is experiencing a period of substantial change. Working with academics from Aston Business School on this KEEN project gives us an opportunity to access their expertise and learn how we can use leading edge theory to create new opportunities for growth in a competitive environment.
Paul Little, Managing Director, Coen Ltd
Family owned construction company, Coen Ltd, is working with Aston University’s Business School on a KEEN project to improve and refine its enterprise management strategy. Significant growth and diversification opportunities have been identified by the company, and by working with academics from the Operations and Information Management Group within the Business School, Coen is able to ensure the correct internal business processes are in place to accommodate future expansion.
The British Motor Industry Heritage Trust (BMIHT) cares for the world’s largest collection of British cars at the Heritage Motor Centre, a purpose-built museum in Warwickshire. A key part of its mission is also to provide an education service which offers learning opportunities for schools, colleges, universities and other educational institutions.
The educational programmes offered by BMIHT were largely based on historical themes. In order to broaden its offer and generate additional income, a need was identified to develop science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) programmes. Working in collaboration with the University of Wolverhampton on a KEEN project was seen as the ideal solution to tackle this challenge. David Wilkinson, a University of Wolverhampton graduate in Geography, was taken on by the Trust as STEM Project Affiliate. David successfully developed STEM programmes linked to the National Curriculum and also contributed to the informal education activities within the museum.
Heritage Motor Centre The KEEN partnership has enabled the Trust to develop a new offer for its educational and family users, generate much-needed income and PR and make new links with individuals, groups and learning institutions in the region. The Trust is also pleased to have supported the development of David Wilkinson, providing experience and support for his future career.
Tim Bryan, Head of Collections & Interpretation, Heritage Motor Centre
KEEN is highly responsive. Turnaround from application to approval is typically three weeks, meaning recruitment periods are minimised and projects can start quickly, helping organisations to move forward and remain competitive.
Dr Dippica Mistry has been employed by My Time as a KEEN Affiliate to research the effectiveness of the My Time service interventions and to develop an evaluation model. My Time provides psychological and counselling services in Birmingham and is currently working with families affected by parental mental health and domestic violence. The organisation has developed an intervention model, Family Action for Choice Tomorrow (FACT), which includes a bespoke programme of working with perpetrators of domestic violence and victim support. Through working with the Affiliate and academics from Aston Business School and Work & Organisational Psychology on a KEEN project, My Time is developing robust models and assessment tools in order to demonstrate the sustainable social and financial benefits of this type of intervention.
My Time Community Interest Company provides bespoke mental health services. The health/ social care delivery system in the UK is constantly changing, with increasing pressure on budgets for non-statutory services, such as those provided by My Time. The organisation’s biggest challenge is to effectively market the benefits of its successful, userled, model to commissioners, emphasising better health, social and financial outcomes.
The KEEN programme is a fantastic opportunity for graduates to enable a strong footing on the career ladder. The support provided through the University and Grenville Engineering has been invaluable in driving marketing activity forward. As a result of the KEEN programme I have pursued further professional development which benefits both the company and my future career prospects.
Atia Bukhari, KEEN Affiliate, Grenville Engineering
Staffordshire University have supported sheet metal fabricators, Grenville Engineering, to develop and implement a strategic marketing plan in order for the company to achieve growth and international expansion. Atia Bukhari, a Staffordshire University graduate, was employed by the Stoke-on-Trent based company as KEEN Affiliate. Atia made an immediate impact, completing an initial company market and customer analysis; overseeing the design and selection of a new company logo; establishing the company’s presence on social media; and beginning the redesign of its promotional literature and website.
My Time CIC
Grenville Engineering (Stoke-on-Trent) Ltd We have been extremely pleased with the progress of the KEEN programme showcasing a number of new initiatives to focus on building the presence of the company. The implementation of a new rebrand and website has helped to boost the profile of our business and strengthens its success for the future.
Dali Dong, Company Supervisor, Grenville Engineering
Due to the diversity and individuality of the projects, there is a large scope for SMEs from many different fields to get involved. Graduates can come from outside of the West Midlands, ensuring a wide range of candidates can be considered for roles.
The KEEN project presents a fantastic opportunity for Ultra Furniture Ltd and the University of Wolverhampton to work together to exchange knowledge and expertise. The project is helping to enhance Ultra’s business objectives and ensure courses at the University give graduates the skills required to meet the needs of regional industry.
Charlotte-Anne Smith, a University of Wolverhampton graduate with a First Class degree in Product Design, was employed by Ultra Furniture as a KEEN Affiliate to work as Furniture Designer. A second Affiliate, Rachel Lane, was also recruited through KEEN to work for the company as E-Commerce, Graphic and Digital Designer.
Glenn Aston, Finance Director Ultra Furniture Ltd
Robert Cooksey, Lead Academic University of Wolverhampton
Ultra Furniture has been making upholstery in Kingswinford for over 20 years, providing a wide range of sofas for retail furnishers throughout the UK. To keep up with the fast-paced, everevolving business world, the company identified a need for younger employees with fresh ideas. The company employed two graduates as KEEN Affiliates to work within their company. The KEEN projects, developed in association with the University of Wolverhampton, are enabling Ultra Furniture to develop a bespoke product range for the global furniture market.
The Board of Directors identified a need to reinforce our design and development department in order to meet the rapidly changing demands of our customers and to also maintain our market position. I was very impressed by the support provided throughout the recruitment process by the University of Wolverhampton and we are very pleased that Rachel Lane and Charlotte-Anne Smith are now part of the team!
The universities involved in KEEN have an excellent track record in the delivery of knowledge transfer programmes and a strong commitment to improving the economic prosperity of the region. To find out more contact: Aston University KEEN@aston.ac.uk Birmingham City University email@example.com Coventry University firstname.lastname@example.org Harper Adams email@example.com Keele University firstname.lastname@example.org Staffordshire University email@example.com University College Birmingham firstname.lastname@example.org University of Wolverhampton email@example.com University of Worcester firstname.lastname@example.org
Ultra Furniture Ltd
The university supports the company from application stage, during recruitment and for the lifetime of the project. Meetings are held at the start, mid-way point and at the end of the project with all parties, to ensure the project is on track and delivering results for the organisation.
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