Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise Network (KEEN)

What is KEEN?

The Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise Network (KEEN) is a new business improvement programme, part-funded by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund), and designed specifically to help West Midlands based SMEs increase their profitability and achieve growth through working with a regional university.

Key features

  • Unique to the region, a part-funded programme that supports SMEs within the West Midlands – any sector of business can apply
  • Access to brightest academic experts, and high-calibre graduates who are ready to work with your business
  • A bespoke project (that we will develop), tailored to suit your strategic business needs and requirements
  • An opportunity for the company to be reimbursed by way of a grant - up to one third of the KEEN graduate’s salary

Previous projects have included:

  • Low-carbon automotive systems
  • Design
  • Sustainable/strategic marketing
  • Business process reengineering
  • Online business systems

What are the benefits for your business?

By working with Birmingham City University your business will gain:

  • A graduate (known as an Affiliate) who will be recruited to work full-time on a bespoke project within your business.
  • Continuing support from a nominated University liaison officer.
  • Ongoing mentoring and support from University experts for the Affiliate to ensure that project objectives are met.
  • Access to the University’s resources, including facilities and expertise.
  • Access to an equipment and travel budget (worth on average £4,000).

How does KEEN work?

The KEEN programme offers a level of business support and flexibility to companies which are yet to realise their full potential. This is made possible through the transfer of knowledge and expertise directly into the business via a recent graduate (Affiliate) who is recruited to work full-time on a growth project, developed in association with the University, for a period of six to 24 months.

The University supports the company from application stage, during recruitment and for the lifetime of the project. Meetings are held at the start, midpoint and end of the project with all parties, to ensure the project is on track and delivering results for the business.

How much will KEEN cost my company?

The average company cost is £23,750 per annum. There is flexibility within the graduate (Affiliate) salary range, allowing the company to appoint at various points on a generous scale.

What makes KEEN attractive to businesses?

  • KEEN is highly responsive. Turnaround from application to approval is typically three weeks, ensuring that recruitment periods are minimised and projects can start quickly, helping businesses to move forward and remain competitive.
  • Unique to the West Midlands, KEEN is available to SMEs in the region who are at pre-innovation level.
  • Graduates (Affiliate) can come from outside of the West Midlands, ensuring that the best talent and skills are recruited to each bespoke project.
  • Unlike many part-funded knowledge transfer schemes, business process and marketing programmes may be eligible for funding.
  • Micro-businesses may also be considered if they are able to demonstrate a commitment to the management of the graduate (Affiliate).

Interested? Next steps:

Contact the Research, Innovation and Enterprise team and we will be happy to visit you at your earliest convenience to discuss how a KEEN project can really help your business to move forward.

Contact: Natalie Lewis, Knowledge Transfer Manager
Research, Innovation & Enterprise Team
T: 0121 331 5677

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