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University of Bradford links to small business is a 'win-win'

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TF Automation MD Tony Hubbert conducts a tour of the factory floor with students pictured in background

KTN links benefit both students and give small businesses access to expertise

Partnering with the University of Bradford has been described as a ‘win win’ for small businesses.

TF Automation has been working with the University for 15 years, offering work placements, internships and full-time positions.

The partnership, part of the University’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) enables both sides to benefit, says managing director Tony Hubbert.

He said: “I feel strongly about working with young people and students and supporting their career paths by offering valuable and tangible paid work experience. We have worked closely with The University of Bradford over many years and as a small business we can offer a different angle and approach compared to large multinationals. Students gain an understanding of how a whole business is run and they are an integral part of a much smaller team.

“We have always found University of Bradford students engaging, positive and professional in their approach, whether they were employed full-time or only with us for a few weeks and in turn, we have given them valuable and meaningful work and projects to carry out.”

In total TF Automation has given around 15 student employment opportunities mainly in marketing and digital communication as well as one-off IT-based projects and data analysis.

In recent years, the University has run workshops to support students in preparing for their placement options. The company has attended these workshops, supporting mock assessment centre days to help students with interview techniques.

Last year TF Automation was approached to run a case study project for the University’s MSc International Strategic Marketing students.

Tony explained: “We created a real case study brief which was presented to students and included a factory tour and question and answer session. Students then had to create a full marketing campaign, including research and in-depth analysis and then formally present their findings and recommendations.

“We have implemented some of their recommendations. We employed one of the students part-time to assist in the delivery of the marketing campaign. We are planning to run this project again in the Autumn term of 2020.”

“The same case study project was also presented remotely by TF Automation to Executive MBA students studying Integrated Marketing Communications at the University of Bradford (Dubai campus)."

TF Automation also supports younger students through a Bradford Chamber of Commerce initiative - Bradford Manufacturing Week - which is now into its third year, running a series of site visits (these will be virtual in 2020) incorporating hands on engagement with their machine build team to highlight manufacturing and engineering opportunities and options to students in the Bradford area.

David Spicer, Director of Business Engagement, Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences, said: “Micro and small businesses can particularly benefit from working with the university as we offer a low risk, low cost route to supporting businesses.  We have business managers across the university to support businesses to innovate and develop via funding and pro-bono opportunities. 

“TF Automation started their journey with us 15 years ago as a member of our thriving KTN. The relationship has developed from the monthly KTN academic and practitioner speaker programme, through to working with our students on live business projects in the UK and our Dubai MBA programme, proving a local SME can benefit from the School of Management's international reach and reap the benefits of securing fresh perspective and informed solutions to business opportunities or issues from a diverse pool of emerging student talent.”

The KTN comprises micro and small business owners, who access the School of Management’s regular networking events and webinars, profiled by academic and practitioner expert sessions, which support businesses to realise opportunities and develop capability to innovate new products, services and processes. In short, it’s a win-win, because both parties benefit.”

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