Business Engagement

A look at how we have shared knowledge, expertise and resources with the business community over the past year

Recognised as a top ten UK location in which to start a business, and home to global brands that have flourished here for decades, Derby is a thriving business community which has attracted £4 billion of investment over the last ten years.

The University is committed to using its research, knowledge, expertise and resources to inspire and develop businesses. As well as providing education and training to upskill the workforce, we also offer practical solutions and advice that help businesses to grow, adapt and innovate.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs)

The KTP programme, funded through Innovate UK as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has been helping businesses through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base for the past 40 years.

Our KTP project portfolio is worth around £2.5m and forms a significant proportion of our research income. KTPs have the potential to simultaneously impact on multiple university agendas, including graduate destination, income and research partnerships. They also contribute towards a strong performance in the Research Excellence Framework, the Knowledge Exchange Framework and the Teaching Excellence Framework - government initiatives designed to encourage universities to continue worldclass research, engage with the wider world, and deliver excellent teaching.

This year we have worked on two KTP projects with Bloc Graphic, who specialise in the creation and re-use of digital information including modelling, animation, development and web. The partnership’s work aims to develop a system which will take a live data stream from a source data system and analyse it so that it can be visualised instantly in a virtual environment.

University staff are also working to embed and develop a digital factory that reuses, learns, adapts and evolves from existing know-how, data and processes that will create model processes with minimal effort and time.
This will automate and industrialise the visual reality/augmented reality model creation market, reducing time and cost to deliver solutions.

We are also working with RDS Global which provides ‘tailored network services’ to users in automotive, builders’ merchants, care homes, hospitality and professional services sectors with IT support, Cloud, hardware and consultancy solutions.

The aim of their two Associate KTP projects is to develop the RDS ‘Black Box (BB) solution’ and become the market leader for ‘Real Time’ aggregated multiconnectivity and reporting solutions in the UK. The next generation of the BB will have more functionality and capability to consolidate larger volumes of data in real time, from both Mobile Technology and Video Imagery technologies.

Finally, our KTP with bespoke financial software solutions company, Financial Performance Solutions (FPS), is focused on taking it from programmable spreadsheets, through Access database models, to their current web-based front-end platform to create dynamic real time reporting dashboards. The aim is to develop the FPS Business Intelligence Software (BIS) and become a UK market leader for Real Time Web based reporting, initially in the automotive industry, later diversifying into other sectors.

Invest to Grow

Now in its fifth year, our Invest to Grow (ITG) programme continues to support growth, innovation and job creation in businesses across the East Midlands.

The ITG programme has awarded funding in excess of £24m to over 200 businesses, who in turn have created over 1,500 jobs, and seen an additional £82m of private sector funding injected into the East Midlands economy.

As well as providing financial support, the programme has raised awareness of the expertise and associated wider support we offer.
Since working with Derby through ITG, many businesses have either undertaken additional engagement with the University or reported they would be keen to do so.


Group of apprentices in high visibility safety gear in a quarry
Quarrying and Mineral Products apprentices take part in a study tour.

Since the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017, we have been working to design new training programmes to address skills gaps in professions such as nursing and policing, and we are already starting to see a positive impact.

We are proud to be pioneering practical Higher and Degree Apprenticeships, designed in conjunction with employers to embed new skills and grow talent in the workplace.

Working with a number of high profile businesses and public sector organisations such as Rolls Royce, NHS, JCB, and exclusively with the Institute of Quarrying, the University is developing the workforce and shaping the future of these organisations.

Our work-based routes into higher education, through on-the-job training with degree-level academic learning, has enabled significantly greater numbers to access higher education.
We now have over 1,000 apprentices on schemes from Levels 2-7, including 771 on higher and degree apprenticeships, in areas such as Management, Teaching, Policing, Engineering and Nursing.

Through our partnership with Nottinghamshire Police, which led the sector in developing the first UK Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship, we have provided a new education route that engages with historically hard to reach communities for police recruitment.

This has resulted in more than 50% of the cohort being first in their family to enter higher education, increased BAME (Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic) participation in the training by 100% and doubled the number of BAME applicants for policing in Nottinghamshire.

We are also helping to transform the nursing and care workforce through our Nursing Associates Higher Degree Apprenticeship, a pioneering education  programme that also provides a progression route into graduate level nursing for those wanting to develop their careers.


Professor Judith Lamie gives a presentation to the MIPIM business property event
Professor Judith Lamie, Pro Vice-Chancellor External Affairs, addresses MIPIM.

In March, Professor Judith Lamie, Pro Vice-Chancellor - External Affairs, led the University’s team at MIPIM 2019 with Professor Warren Manning, Pro ViceChancellor Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology.

The University was part of Team Derby and Derbyshire, Marketing Derby’s largest ever delegation of the region’s public and private organisations.
The annual global property event hosted in Cannes, was an opportunity for the University to work closely with the region to position Derby to investors across the globe and support the ongoing regeneration of the city. Professor Lamie presented at the event to showcase the University’s future plans for investment and development, including the development of a  University Quarter in the city and a new University Enterprise Zone.


We are working with higher and further education providers across the D2N2 area to deliver the European Social Fund (ESF) High Level Skills programme, which includes the ‘Grads for D2N2’ project.

The ethos behind the project is that we are DRIVEN to help small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire recruit and retain our most talented students and graduates.

There are fully and part funded services available to help businesses plug skills gaps in the local labour market and minimise the financial risk associated with recruitment.

We currently have 664 students registered in our Talent Pool, where companies can receive an intern for 80 hours at no cost to themselves. To date, we have placed 51 interns with local SMEs, including employers such as Derby Museums, Crocstar, Tecquipment, the Institute of Quarrying and Smith of Derby.

We have also supported over 20 local SMEs with identifying and recruiting graduates for full-time positions.

To find out how we could work with you to help your business grow, contact the University of Derby Business team on +44 (0)800 001 5500 or email