Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Tommy Flowers Institute Spring Conference Launches

“Future Organisation – How to build agility and customer focus?”


The Tommy Flowers Institute launched its first conference looking at the Future Organisation. This kicked off the programme of “real-world” conferences.


Prof Tim Whitley, MD of BT Research & Innovation
Prof Tim Whitley, MD of BT Research & Innovation
The Tommy Flowers Institute exists to improve university researchers’ employability, in both industry and academia and thereby enable them to achieve more economic and societal impact – both as individuals and from their research. The Institute is complimentary to what academia can provide, bringing in industrial exposure, opportunities and contacts that just are not available elsewhere – at least not in all one place.

Prof Tim Whitley, MD of BT Research & Innovation said “The Tommy Flowers Institute is focused on the researcher and not just the research. TFI brings together industry and academia to develop the research leaders of the future. These events help galvanize industry to work with world class academic institutions in a new manner, to help generate the research leaders that the nation is going to need”.


Malcom Lowe-Lauri, Executive Director of the Cambridge University Health Partnership
Malcom Lowe-Lauri,
Executive Director of the Cambridge University Health Partnership
Major industry players including BT, Huawei, 3M, Intel and Adva united to articulate a clear vision of their future organisations and their future skills requirements. Hosted at BT’s global research headquarters at Adastral Park, 30 industrial sponsored PhD and Post-Doctoral researchers received a once in a life time opportunity to quiz the leaders of our industry.

We were joined by Malcom Lowe-Lauri, Executive Director of the Cambridge University Health Partnership who highlighted the importance of building a tech cluster system. Christiane Gruen, MD of 3M UK and Ireland, discussed the challenges of ethically coordinating a global technology initiative.


Christiane Gruen, MD of 3M UK and Ireland
Christiane Gruen, MD of 3M UK and Ireland
Innovation Martlesham (IM) companies including Rokker; Coderus and Oxems provided the unique viewpoint of smaller and medium sized enterprises. They value being part of the Tech Cluster at Adastral Park, as it provides good opportunities to network. They also value the opportunity to offer projects to students to help them with business challenges. Engaging with TFI gives smaller companies access to bright minds and a great collaboration opportunity.

Industrial case studies were presented by experienced industry practitioners and were analysed in depth by the post grad researchers and academics. This included discussing the challenges of reskilling teams as a result of adopting new technology which dramatically transforms the organisation. Trust and the role of management during change was also discussed.

Breakout session, discussions on whiteboards and tables
Attendees workshopped new approaches to business processes in the context of considering “The Employee Experience in a Future Organisation”. Head of Employee Experience, Sue Hessey, said “there was incredible output from such a short session, underlining the brain-power and engagement of the attendees”.

Specific post grad opportunities were highlighted by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), The Operational Research Society and European opportunities from EIT Digital. The clear message highlighted the necessity to network; build knowledge; broaden your mind and enjoy it! EPSRC’s Associate Director for Business discussed Skills for Innovation and business inspired training.

small group discussing and networking
The culmination of the event was the post grad researchers taking a leadership role themselves and detailing a clear programme of future conferences, online collaboration, newsletters and journals with enhanced networking opportunities to share research interests and challenges.

BT’s Head of University Partnerships, Fraser Burton said “This conference has been a spectacular success. It’s brought together local and central government, local and global businesses. Plus the very best postgraduate researchers and academics.”

PGR panel session being filmed



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