Frequently Asked Questions about Collaborative Projects

1. Eligibility

We work with entrepreneurs, SMEs, charities/trusts and multinational corporations on innovative product design projects with strong academic challenges. We are interested in open briefs that allow students to research and generate new thinking, possibilities and ideas for your companies that are grounded by the realism of manufacturing, time and budgets.

2. How much does it cost?

This initiative is about providing students with an opportunity to work with organisations and apply their academic learning on commercial projects. It’s about creating a commercial learning environment that will hopefully lead to better grades and greater employability prospects for our students. We are seeking collaborative partners who can provide design support, reviews and commercial expertise throughout the Major project (from Oct – April). You will cover travel expenses (the figure to be agreed between the company and student), and help fund materials and prototyping costs (typically £1000-£3500). At the start of the project you will need to allocate project management time to review and support students throughout their project and have a signed off budget to cover student and project expenses.

3. What is the level of company commitment?

Typically, the more you put in the more you get out! At a minimum we would recommend monthly face to face progress review meetings and adhoc Q&A via email/phone. Your student will also meet their academic supervisor weekly to discuss and gain feedback on the project. Your role is to help support your student through expert advice, connect them with relevant people (e.g. experts and target consumers) and resources (e.g. materials, research). You will be expected to attend the Major Project Review in mid-November (date TBC), at Brunel to meet with your student and their academic supervisor.

4. Who owns the IP?

Title to any intellectual property made or conceived in the performance of the Project by the Student shall be vested in the Company. However, it is essential that in doing so you provide a sufficient level of help, advice and funding for materials/prototypes required by the project to make it a fair exchange. We also ask that Companies acknowledge the Students contribution in the event that the Company exploits commercially the project results by paying a reasonable sum/royalty to the Student. We will send you a project contract that details this in more detail.

5. How is the product design concept realised?

Typical outcomes are proving proof of principle prototypes and physical or CAD visual models together with a final design report.  See case studies from Made in Brunel.

6. How many students work on collaborative projects?

It is the our aim to year on year increase the numbers of collaborative projects as we believe the synergy between industry and academia leads to better academic grades and enhanced commercialisation potential.

7. How do I submit a brief?

Download and complete the Collaborative Template Brief and return to paula.neal@brunel.ac.uk by end July.  Our academic and Co-Innovate team will review your project for suitability for our students. We may ask you to revise the brief based on our feedback to help strengthen the project to better meet the academic requirements.

8. What are the academic requirements, deliverables and deadlines of the project?

The following report provides a guide to the core academic deadlines that your student will be working towards. See Academic requirements PDF.

9. How are students selected to work on my brief?

Accepted collaborative briefs will be presented to the year group over the summer (June – early Sept) and students will be asked to submit their CV and an expression of interest to work on collaborative projects. Our academic and Co-Innovate team will select and match students to briefs, based on the interests of students and knowledge of their capabilities. If there are a number of strong candidates for your brief we will also involve you in this process by sending you the students’ CVs.

10. Who will be their academic supervisor?

Academic supervisors will be selected based on their research interests and professional background that best matches your project. Although your first point of contact will be through the student we will encourage you and the academic supervisor to meet at the kick off meeting at the start of the project, at the Major project review in mid-November and at the end of the project during the Made in Brunel Exhibition in June.

11. When do students start/finish their project?

Students begin their project immediately when they return to University at the start of October and submit their project at the end of April the following year. Typically students will spend 400+ hours working on their project whilst completing their final year studies.

12. Where are students based when completing their project?

Students are based at Brunel University London to complete their project as this is part of their final year studies. We have prototyping, testing and model making facilitates on site that students use for their projects. In addition, we encourage students to spend a few days at their collaborating partner companies during their final year as and when appropriate.

13. What if I have an innovation brief for another student discipline?

We can connect you to other Colleges within Brunel University for student projects with other disciplines.

14. What happens next?

Please contact paula.neal@brunel.ac.uk for further information or submit your project brief for consideration by the academic team.