Knowledge Transfer Partnership

This Knowledge Transfer Partnership brought together the expertise within the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) at Middlesex University with Social Firms UK (SFUK), the umbrella organisation representing and supporting the social firms sector in the UK. Social firms are market-led enterprises set up specifically to create good quality jobs for people disadvantaged in the labour market.

The broad aim of this project was to investigate the characteristics and needs of social firms in the UK and to develop dedicated tools enabling SFUK to better understand, support, strengthen and grow the sector.

The project team included:

Company Supervisor:                        Di Cunliffe, Social Firms UK
Knowledge Base Supervisor:             Alessio D’Angelo, Middlesex University
Knowledge Base Advisory Team:       Mel Evans, Fergus Lyon, Eleonore Kofman – Middlesex University
KTP Associate:                                  Carly Malling
Project Officer:                                   Magdolna Lőrinc, Middlesex University

During this KTP project, the following outputs were produced:

  • Background research on the social firm sector;
  • The online toolkit “InfoMine”;
  • Online and Social Media Strategy for SFUK;
  • Recommendations on sector mapping, development of InfoMine and enhancement of SFUK effectiveness;
  • A project report summarising the outputs and outcomes of the project:
    Empowering Social Firms. KTP Project Report.

Social Firms InfoMine is an online toolkit designed to help individual social firms (as well as other users interested in the social firm model) to identify their information needs and get direct access to resources and support. The toolkit includes an online questionnaire which collects information about the firm’s characteristics and the user needs, and produces a bespoke report with information and links. Registered users can also search the database of resources, which will be kept up-to-date by SFUK with the support of members. SFUK will encourage members to use the toolkit regularly. In this way the information collected through InfoMine will also be used for mapping and monitoring of the sector, allowing SFUK to produce regular reports and enhancing its lobbying power.

From the company’s point of view, the impact of the KTP includes an enhanced  ability to attract members and clients and – through a stronger online network – an improved capacity to promote and provide professional services such as mentoring, business advice, training and workshops. The knowledge which will be gathered by SFUK through its new tools will be of strategic importance to support applications for funding, both nationally and internationally, and to produce evidence to influence policy makers and other stakeholders.

“Our partnership with Middlesex University has supported our new strategic direction and enabled us to develop skills which will be essential for our future progress. We worked together to identify social firms’ needs and develop innovative tools and resources to help grow the sector” – stated Di Cunliffe from Social Firms UK.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships is a business support product run and managed on behalf of the government, funding organisations by the Technology Strategy Board, a non-departmental public body. A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) is a relationship formed between a company (including social enterprises) and an academic institution (Knowledge Base Partner), which facilitates the transfer of knowledge, technology and skills. Each partnership employs one or more recently qualified people (known as Associates) to work in the company on a project of strategic importance, whilst also being supervised by the Knowledge Base Partner.

For further information on this project contact Alessio D’Angelo (a.dangelo@mdx.ac.uk).