Social Science and Business KTP Case Studies

Research in the Social Sciences and in Birmingham Business School at the University of Birmingham has regional, national and global importance, helping to set the agenda for government and business. Below are some examples of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships where our research has informed the devlopment of business practice for our company partners. 

Housing Associations' Charitable Trust (HACT)

Innovating to transform social housing

The Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) was established in 1960 as a national charity seeking to support the work of housing providers and influence housing practice, primarily in the housing association sector.  The charity re-launched in 2012, reinventing itself as an ideas and innovation agency for the social housing sector, operating on a social enterprise-based model. 

The reason for this change was due to the changing operating environment for both HACT and the sector it worked with.  HACT’s original funding model, which was primarily grant-driven, had ceased to provide a viable source of income and was – increasingly - diverting the company’s attention from its core historic work with affordable housing providers.  Furthermore, whilst in the past housing providers had benefited from HACT’s grant funded activity, housing providers were now capable of funding their own activities, and the more urgent demands were around the generation of ideas and innovative practice.   A decision was therefore made to move to a sustainable knowledge-based business model, but HACT required academic expertise to develop services that would be beneficial to its target market.

Working with Professor David Mullins and Angus McCabe of the University of Birmingham, funding from Innovate UK (formerly known as the Technology Strategy Board) allowed an honorary fellow from the University, Dr Tricia Jones, to be based with HACT for 2 years. During this time Dr Jones oversaw a project that helped HACT deliver a huge transformation to reflect the equally large changes taking place in its housing-centred marketplace, investigating and developing new opportunities as they arose, with a particular focus on identifying and developing innovative insight and learning from across the social housing sector and beyond. As a result, HACT is now able to translate social science based research into marketable learning packages and disseminate learning with the Housing and Communities Research Group at the University of Birmingham. They have created a new role of Research Manager and annual sales turnover has seen an increase of over £600k as a direct result of the KTP project.

Andrew van Doorn

Deputy Chief Executive, HACT

“The KTP was instrumental in enabling HACT to transform its business… Our partnership with the University of Birmingham and its Third Sector Research Centre has positioned HACT as the market leader for creating new knowledge sharing platforms and new insights for social housing providers.”

 

Prime plc

Delivering insight to improve organisational culture

Prime is a property development and investment company that fund, design, construct and maintain health-service related buildings. They have a diverse set of clients ranging from GPs, community healthcare providers and Local Authority partners.

One of the main challenges that Prime faced was the lack of systematic knowledge management across the organisation and subsequent access to robust, evidence-based data on its performance and its products. This meant that new business was harder to win and there were delays and duplication in progressing existing projects. These issues had a commercial impact on Prime because it was missing out on the income from potential new business and experiencing the additional cost that delay and duplication inevitably incurs.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Birmingham helped the Company to develop the in-house knowledge and the skills it required. The aim was to develop processes for collecting information and a database to store data that would enable easier retrieval and analysis.

Working with Hilary Brown from the University's School of Social Policy, Prime created an effective Prime Facts database and robust knowledge management processes. This in turn has led to a more evaluative culture within the organisation.

Ann Pursey

Group Partnerships Director, Prime plc

“Working with the University of Birmingham on this KTP project has been invaluable in supporting our business strategy and objectives going forward. Having a dedicated University of Birmingham (KTP) associate on site has enabled us to focus on delivering the project on time and on budget.”

 

Further case studies by category