Konfer is an online innovation brokerage tool designed to help businesses access funding opportunities and the wealth of research, researchers and services in UK universities and research organisations. Developed, operated and managed by the National Centre of Universities and Business (NCUB) in partnership with Research England and UK Research and Innovation, konfer is free to use and open to all UK businesses, charities, research and technology organisations, universities, academics and individuals.

Here Shivaun Meehan, head of communications at NCUB, tells us more.

Brite Innovation Review:

Can you tell us about konfer?

Shivaun Meehan:

Konfer connects innovators and experts across the UK. For businesses, it opens up research, researchers and services in UK universities and research institutions. For academics, it is a great way to find impact partners.

How does the tool work?

UK businesses of any size can search konfer to find an expert, a paper, research and development funding, specialist equipment within UK universities in their area of interest, or post collaboration calls. They can also search for academic partners for funding opportunities.

Using machine learning and natural language processing, konfer provides advanced search and discovery across 23 industry sectors and almost 1.3 million UK resources (research publications, experts, equipment and funding).

What inspired the creation of konfer and who was involved in the development?

Konfer was developed by NCUB in partnership with UK Research and Innovation to scale up interactions between universities and business. A number of government reviews recommended the creation of a single-access point for businesses to access the wealth of material and expertise available in UK universities. And konfer simplifies that process.

How does konfer aim to support collaborations in research and innovation?

The aim of konfer is to support companies, charities and other organisations to innovate, grow and solve their challenges through easy access to the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists in UK universities.

Can you give an example or two of organisations using konfer and how it has supported their projects?

Hermes Healthcare, an SME in healthcare technology, were looking for academic partners to help validate and develop an integrated health management system for the management of chronic diseases. They posted a collaboration opportunity on konfer and are now in discussions with a number of experts in different universities.

Severn Trent, a listed water company, recognises that it must find new ways to conserve water so it posted an open innovation call on konfer asking for new ideas to help solve some of its challenges such as reducing leakage and developing new treatment processes. A number of universities have responded to the call and made direct connections on konfer.

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