Monomita NandyReader in Accounting and Finance; Director of Internationalisation & Exchange Coordinator-BBS
Gurnam Selvarajah Innovation Director for Co-Innovate Journeys at Brunel University London
Sahrish IqbalProject Coordinator for Co-Innovate Journeys at Brunel University London
Our initiative: The Covid-19 pandemic poses 'grand challenges' to higher education institutions (HEI).
One major challenge for HEI is to incorporate the revised skills in teaching to prepare students with the skills required post Covid-19 by future employers. Academic researchers explained the need of a resilience model for HEI (Nandy et al., 2020) which is only possible when students assist local business to grow and to keep creating job opportunities for university graduates. Recently, the World Trade Organisation (WTO, 2020) predicted that many countries will observe at least a three percent decline in gross domestic product in 2020, which will create a big challenge for businesses around the world. Thus, it is highly important for every business to analyse the existing business model and to assess the feasibility of any revised models. This re-evaluation should be done as soon as possible to support the business to recover in the short period during the post-covid-19 period. Businesses are required to change their priorities from the old challenges and need to focus on resilient approaches for their future growth and sustainability. To assist the business during this immensely difficult time, higher education institutions can play an important role.
The Co-Innovate Journeys team at Brunel University London came forward to respond to the above-mentioned call from HEI and local businesses operating in national and international markets. To support businesses to perform strategically during the recovery period, academics from Brunel Business School started working closely with the Co-Innovate team to identify local businesses looking for research support to make strategic changes in their operation. As a result of this intensive and collaborative effort by academics and Co-Innovate project team members, we established several collaborations with businesses across a number of sectors from education, health care, AI, Supply chain etc. to name a few. These collaborations created opportunities for students to gain industry experience in an environment where they applied their knowledge and put in to practice their innovative and business development skills. This collaborative approach between academics, students and industry assisted students with the confidence to build their resilience and to prepare them with the transferrable skills for future jobs. Whilst also supporting businesses during the pandemic, the academics took a keen interest in meeting with each business to understand their short to medium term needs and then map these needs with the relevant academic module learning objectives.
In this academic year (2020/21), Brunel Business School students will work in more than 20 business led projects alongside other existing projects and across multi-disciplinary departments within the university. In these collaborations between business students and local businesses, the students will work under their supervisors from the department, which will allow students to apply their academic knowledge in an innovative way to address the real challenges faced by business. Such collaborations will assist students to enhance their practical knowledge whilst helping businesses to find innovative solutions to their problems and input for their recovery. Overall, this excellent initiative by Co-Innovate and Brunel Business School will assist the local economy to observe opportunities for growth which will lead to sustainable economic development. In addition, business academics are also working closely with Co-Innovate to share their expertise by participating in surveys, organising workshops, consulting, mentoring, volunteering to provide support during this difficult time. This initiative by the Co-Innovate team to generate high socio-economic impact during the covid-19 pandemic is a very unique example to follow, supporting to build a resilient society in the future.
You might be thinking what is Co-Innovate?
Co-Innovate Journeys is a fully funded GLA/ERDF programme match funded by Brunel University London. The aim of the programme is to support SME businesses across London with business workshops, collaborative industry led research projects, support in launching new products and services to market and the creation of new jobs.
To learn more about the Co-Innovate programme, please follow our webpage: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/business/Business-Partnerships/Co-Innovate
 Corresponding author: Dr Monomita Nandy, Brunel University London; Kingston Lane, Uxbridge; UB8 3PH, UK; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
 To know more about our initiatives and project details please contact the corresponding author