Meet the Experts - Part 8
Climate Services Development Manager, Space4Climate & IEA
Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself
I specialise in climate-related knowledge exchange across academic, government, commercial and third sector organisations. I currently run the Space4Climate group, am a Steering Group member of the London Climate Change Partnership and CIBSE Resilient Cities group and have co-founded Mesh, a new network for the UK climate services community. I previously worked for the UK Climate Impacts Programme as Knowledge Exchange Manager for the EPSRC-funded Adaptation and Resilient in the Context of Change network. I was awarded ESRC Impact Champion 2016 for my role in founding and developing the Intrepid Explorers impact platform. I am completing a PhD on mainstreaming climate change adaptation in England’s social housing sector at King’s College London.
Q2: Tell us about the section of the Data Tree course that you have developed
The module ‘Data & Research: Working with Business’ prepares the researcher for collaborating with businesses. It helps researchers to place themselves in their stakeholders’ shoes. I’ve drawn on advice from businesses who have collaborated with researchers, knowledge exchange professionals and networks to help researchers understand the different types of value their data and, or, capability, might bring to businesses. The module draws on top tips from knowledge exchange professionals and networks to illustrate tried and tested mechanisms of knowledge transfer through to knowledge exchange from writing for trade press or presenting at an industry conference to working on a placement in a business. I’m the first to admit it’s a rather dry start, but keep going, the start of the module is a necessary evil, it gets better I promise!
Q3: Why is your section of Data Tree important for PhDs and ECRs?
The nature and demands of researchers are changing. The academic community is increasingly being called upon to contribute to economic development and competitiveness. Academic excellence alone does not translate into economic growth and whilst universities are developing supporting infrastructures, there’s an onus on the academic to know what support they require, to be an intelligent client for these services. To do so effectively requires developing an understanding of how your research/capability/expertise is of value to those you wish to work with. There’s the old adage; ‘you don't get owt for nowt’. Hopefully the module I’ve created will help researchers, whatever their career stage, to consider the different types of value proposition their research offers the business community and be aware of a variety of tried and tested ways to engage with businesses.
What’s less commonly shared or made explicit about the impact agenda is the invisible work it takes; the time, effort and resources that sometimes are needed to turn research, or capability, into a bespoke value proposition and to get the funds to do so. On a personal note, I think impact should not be something left to chance, to the altruism of individual researchers or the hopes that stakeholder ‘champions’ will carry this forward. We need a greater understanding of the different types of value proposition of research if we are to overcome the current ‘creaming’ tendency to focus funding and support services on the commercialisation of near-market ready research outputs. There needs to be far greater academic recognition and legitimisation of activities, capabilities and time required for transforming and communicating research findings into material for industry, stakeholder, or public audiences. I truly believe that the Data Tree course is a helpful starting point for this.
Further reference: Jenkins, K and Turner, B. (2018). Incentivising entrepreneurial academics; the bricks and mortar of an entrepreneurial university. UKCIP, University of Oxford.
Q4: What’s your top tip for PhD students and ECRs starting out in their careers?
Invisible work perpetuates modern day slavery so make sure any time in kind you’re giving to the academic community is visible and any outcomes resulting you claim -make sure you record them on Researchfish.
Q5: If you weren’t a Research Project Manager what would you be?
Perhaps a professional paraglider… I love seeing the world from above. Very hopeful that in my lifetime quiet, clean-powered personal flying devices will become available.
Find out more about Briony and her experience here: