Research Collaboration


We welcome research collaborations with business organisations. These can take a number of forms which vary in the extent to which the work addresses broad research issues or specific concerns of a collaborative partner, and the extent to which the work is funded by the partner or by government or other funding bodies.

Please note a couple of unavoidable realities though:

  1. UCL is a not-for-profit organisation. If engaged in collaborative bids to funding organisations, all UCL's costs (direct and indirect) need to be covered.
  2. We do not have a huge pool of staff waiting for work; every member of staff is funded by a particular project. Using their time involves either buying it out or recruiting additional staff.

There are five main ways of working together:

Research Council Funded

As a university research centre, many of our activities are funded by UK research councils and other research funding bodies. Such research projects might last from one to five years (typically three) and employ a number of researchers and fund PhD students.

To encourage the relevance and uptake of our work we often conduct these research projects in collaboration with one or more commercial (or public sector) partners. This can provide us with real-world contexts to study whilst also providing a partner organisation with access to research output relevant to them. The contribution of the partner organisation is usually ‘in kind’, meaning that they provide access to study situations and/or data. The theme of this kind of research is directed towards questions of interest to the wider research community.

In the past, The User Centred Interactive Search with Digital Libraries project involved working with with industry partners such as Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (a multi-national law form), LexisNexis Butterworths (a large publishing house and developer of digital legal information resources) and Proquest (a large publisher and digital library developer).

Yvonne Rogers is the lead PI on a new collaborative project on Sustainable Connected Cities with Intel and Imperial College London. There are also regular discussions on research priorities with manufacturers of medical devices on the CHI+MED project, such as B. Braun, Baxter, Adelard, PDD and Carefusion. Animazoo and NOLDUS are on the advisory board of the Emo&Pain project, and one of the partners on the ILHAIRE project is La Cantoche Production. Researchers on the SerenA project are currently in discussion with industry partners such as the British Library and the BBC about potential collaboration opportunities.

If you would like to find out more please contact our Business Fellow Anna Cox.

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Knowledge Transfer Partnership

KTP (or Knowledge Transfer Partnership) is offered by the DTI (UK Department of Trade and Industry) to promote collaboration between 'Knowledge Bases,' such as universities, and industry or public organisations.

The KTP scheme works by the Knowledge Base employing a graduate or graduates to work on a project that is strategically important to the company or organisation. The project can last between 1 and 3 years (usually 2) – if 3 years then the graduate can register for a PhD at UCL (subject also to meeting the normal academic criteria for doing a PhD of course).

The budget per person is set at about £44k per annum for a project in London, of which the company pay about £18k, with the Government paying the rest plus an overhead of about £11k. This represents very good value for the company.

The scheme is based on the benefits for the company or organisation, the Knowledge Base and the graduate who does the work (The Associate). Keys points are:

1. The project must be of strategic importance to the company, and

2. There must be a significant element of academic challenge in the project.

UCL has about a dozen KTP schemes at the moment. Departments participating include Computer Science, the Bartlett, Chemical, Mechanical, Electronic and Electrical and Geomatic Engineering and Medical Physics. The Management Studies Centre, Department of Geography and the Academic Centre for Anaesthesia have also been involved.

Over the last five years, UCL has been awarded about 35 programmes to the total value of about £4M. One of these was a KTP with Paperstone (a company selling office supplies) and Prof Ann Blandford, Dr Anna Cox and Enzian Baur - this was completed last year. Recently Dr Paul Marshall and collaborators in the Computer Science Dept made a successful bid for a KTP with PassivSystems, which is due to start over the next few months.

Duncan Bull, in the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation Systems, runs the UCL KTP Centre, co-ordinating KTP activities with UCL and providing a support service for those departments participating, including UCLIC. If you would like some more information, please either email Anna Cox or Duncan Bull.

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UCLIC staff are an excellent resource for consulting. Many thousands of pounds have been invested in the knowledge and expertise we have acquired and we can offer consultancy services in a number of areas related to Human Computer Interaction.

For example, Dr Nadia Berthouze is a speaker and workshop organizer in a two day event on User Experience for practitioners organized by IABOX Ltd.

Please contact Anna Cox who will act as broker to find the right expertise or take advantage of the sophisticated UCL consulting arrangements through UCL Consulting Ltd

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Hosting MSc Projects

Every summer, each of our MSc students undertakes a substantial research project which is written up as a dissertation and forms a significant part of the MSc assessment. Depending on the interests of the student, many projects are conducted  in collaboration with an external ‘Host’ organisation, who helps frame the research problem and also provides resources such as access to study participants (subjects). The problem under investigation can be research or application orientated. The external host then typically shares a supervisory role with a member of UCLIC staff.

In addition to providing an opportunity for conducting a piece of research of interests to a host organisation, summer projects also provide an opportunity to get to know one or more UCLIC masters students. We have had MSc student projects hosted by Phillips, Orange Labs and One-to-one insight in the past and this year, some projects are being hosted by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Limited and also the BBC. We welcome approaches from interested organisations.

For more information please contact our MSc Project Coordinator Paul Marshall.

EngD Studentships

An EngD studentship involves an industrial partner sponsoring a student to undertake a four-year research programme on a topic of mutual interest.

There are currently several PhD students working on EngD studentships in partnership with industry who are supervised by UCLIC academics. These are:

Dave Thompson, who is working on a project at NATS (National Air Traffic Services) under the supervision of Prof. Ann Blandford and Dr Nadia Berthouze.

Ian Thurlow, who is working at BT (British Telecom) under the supervision of Prof. Ann Blandford.

Jessica Wardlaw, who is working on a project with Dr Foster Intelligence under the supervision of Dr Anna Cox.

Charles Ray, who is working at BT (British Telecom) under the supervision of Dr Nadia Berthouze.

For more information please contact the PhD Admissions Tutor, Dr  Anna Cox.

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Page last modified on 03 jul 15 11:14 by Judith W Borghouts