Long term partnership develops skills for the future

Airport Information Systems (AIS) is one of the leading suppliers of airport management systems. They have supplied and installed software systems for 30 years, and a long-term partnership with the University has enabled the business to develop skills that will ensure their continued success.

European Union European Structural and Investment Funds

AIS serves 14 airports within the UK and Channel Islands and each has been a customer for at least 20 years. Their long-standing relationships are testament to both the quality of AIS products and the high level of service provided.

Tapping into university expertise

The organisation is made up of a tightly knit team of four, some of whom are approaching retirement, so succession planning has recently become a priority. With support from the University of Derby, AIS has been able to take the first steps into making their plans a reality. The company accessed a Knowledge Exchange and Innovation (KEI) initiative, providing funds towards the cost of employing a graduate.

Business Development Director at AIS, Kevin Faulkner has found the initiative to be extremely helpful. “When an individual leaves such a small team it has a huge impact, so we wanted to ensure the knowledge within the organisation wasn’t lost. Although we knew we needed to consider succession planning, the KEIs graduate scheme has enabled us to prioritise this and we now feel as though it’s achievable.”

Graduate recruitment

AIS decided to establish a new role at the company — Junior Software Developer — which would be suitable for a recent graduate. We helped AIS advertise the job and the team gained a number of high-quality applications, from which they shortlisted. Kevin explains why they created the role: “We are always looking for ways to take the business into the future. The hope is that this new role will open the gate for us to move forwards and grow the business. 

Students in the Bloomberg Lab

Investing in New Talent

“We believe appointing a recent graduate will bring a different perspective and offer new ideas. The techniques and technologies they have learned during their studies will enable us to enhance our current products and refresh the view of technologies within the business.”

Skills development

With a commitment to developing new skills, Kevin has also participated in the University’s Advanced Skills Programme, which is funded by the European Union European Social Fund. Although AIS had used online marketing platforms previously, Kevin wanted to develop a deeper understanding of digital marketing strategies.

He enrolled on the Strategic Marketing in a Digital Age short online course which offers highly practical learning “I was able to refresh our website using the knowledge I’d learned during the course and the newly re-organised site is a lot more visually engaging. We’ve also made significant changes to a listing we have on an industry Airport Suppliers website which is a major promotional tool for our organisation. The information learned during the course has enabled us to build a better profile, enhancing our use of the website as a marketing tool.” Social media is another area that has been reviewed following completion of the course.

“We already used LinkedIn for networking, but we’re now able to use it in much more depth as a marketing tool.”


Kevin recently took part in a new initiative launched by the University ‘Fry-Up Friday’. This short online get together is intended to offer local organisations an informal way to share ideas and offer inspiration. “It was a useful way to share knowledge with those in other industries and I came away having learnt a new technique for keeping up to date with industry news. It was an uplifting session during this challenging time.”

The support AIS has received from all of these programmes has definitely left a positive impression on Kevin “I view the University of Derby as a trusted collaborative partner and a valuable resource hub. The partnership has allowed AIS to benefit from capabilities, expertise and facilities we wouldn’t otherwise have had access to. It’s this interaction that has helped us to stay at the forefront of our industry. I’ve found all colleagues within the University great to work with and I would highly recommend collaboration with the University of Derby to other organisations.”

For further information or to discuss working in partnership with us, please contact our Business Enquiry Team on +44 (0)800 001 5500 or businessgateway@derby.ac.uk

I view the University of Derby as a trusted collaborative partner and a valuable resource hub. The partnership has allowed AIS to benefit from capabilities, expertise and facilities we wouldn’t otherwise have had access to.

Kevin Faulkner
Business Development Director