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Partner with external organisations

Start putting your research into practice with the insights and practical support that can help you build productive, lasting collaborations with external partners.

Why partner?

An external collaboration can give you access to the people, processes and funds that:

  • move your research from discovery to practical use
  • help you test the commercial potential of an idea or proposition
  • keep your teaching at the cutting edge of your field
  • create opportunities for your department and students to work on groundbreaking innovations
  • enable you to inform public discourse and influence policy

Benefit from our team’s expertise

Our team manages partnerships with some of the world’s leading companies, as well as small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), public and third sector organisations, NGOs and charities.

Their experience working in universities, multinationals, startups, innovation agencies and the public sector is combined with expertise in:

  • energy, resources and the build environment
  • pharmaceuticals and healthcare
  • new technologies
  • engineering and high value manufacturing
  • transport and urban services
  • creative industries
  • public and third sector 

It’s this understanding of both the academic and non-academic worlds that means our partnership managers are ideally placed to shape a relationship that works both for you and your partner.

Strategic collaboration

Whether you’re already working with a partner or are thinking about an external partnership for the first time, there’ll be a way of working that suits you. We use recognised and bespoke tools to make sure each partnership is built on shared objectives and follows an agreed action plan.

You’ll then have a single point of contact who’ll keep it on track and look out for opportunities to extend the relationship further.

Learn more about how we can help you:

Take the first steps

If you’re new to business-university partnerships, our Challenge-Oriented Innovation (COIN) meetings may be a good place to start. These online meetings bring together UCL academics and external organisations to discuss the challenges of the day.

We also offer training to introduce you to the key concepts in setting up partnerships, such as managing your intellectual property (IP) and outlining the support you can access.

Find potential collaborators

Our Partnership Managers are experts at finding the right partners and identifying funding opportunities.

Our innovation networks and research showcases are great ways to find collaborators and seed partnerships.

Work out the details

If things look promising, you’ll want to start building your partnership right away. There are a number of tools we can use to help you, including:

  • facilitated round tables to define research questions in more detail
  • detailed road-mapping to ensure the emerging partnership aligns with everyone’s priorities

Our Partnership Managers can advise you on which tool is appropriate and help you get things organised.

Formalise your partnership

Once you've decided what your partnership will look like, you may want to make things formal through a contract, memorandum of understanding (MoU) or other form of agreement.

We can connect you to the right people to turn your partnership into reality, including addressing IP, legal and contractual questions.

Building a partnership

Collaborate on research and development

Funding is available to support partnerships that put your research to use and increase its impact. These range from testing the commercial potential of an idea to embedding existing know-how into a business.

Residencies and secondments

You can bring industry expertise into UCL and advance your research with funding from the EPSRC. Or arrange an outward secondment or Knowledge Exchange Partnership (KTP), putting your research into practice within a partner organisation.

Providing consultancy services

We can help you work out what skills and experience you’ll need to become a consultant. Then we can also get you ready to share your knowledge with partners from commercial enterprises to public sector organisations, charities and NGOs.

Student projects or placements

If the programme you’re teaching has an assessed or capstone project, you might consider running this in association with an external partner. We can help identify partner projects and advise on processes and templates.

Commercialise your research

If you’re working on an idea that shows potential, you might want to learn how to commercialise your research. You can get the advice you need to form a spinout company and understand the value of protecting your intellectual property (IP).

Joint funding applications

Pairing up with an external partner is a great way to develop joint funding applications to Innovate UK, Research England, the Research Councils and others. Our team can bring together partners for the important early discussions.

Start the conversation

Partnerships can come in all shapes and sizes, and support many different outcomes.

See how we can tailor our support to your research. Contact a senior manager in your sector or email the Business and Innovation Partnerships team at enterprise@ucl.ac.uk

Find your sector contact

Academic spotlight

Professor Rodney Harrison
Professor Rodney Harrison

Rodney is Professor of Heritage Studies, UCL Institute of Archaeology, and Co-Director of the UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies.

He’s worked with the National Trust for 10 years on a variety of projects, from research to the development of a new BA Heritage.

UCL and the National Trust have now signed a long-term strategic partnership agreement. 

Read about Rodney’s experience of working with the National Trust and the new partnership >

Case studies

MagicFace app
UCL project brings opera and history to new audiences with augmented reality

Helping people imagine what it’s like to be a character on stage was the aim of an exciting collaboration between UCL, the English National Opera and creative studio Holition.


Two dancers performing in Wayne McGregor's Atomos
The UCL Dance Network: Collaboration flourishes at the arts-science interface

UCL is bringing different creative organisations together to collaborate on projects, including innovative choreography, monitoring dancers’ health, and the benefits of dance for Parkinson’s disease.