A VISITING professor at the University of Huddersfield has a mission to ensure that its world-class facilities, its best brains and its brightest ideas play a key role in economic regeneration.
With an extensive background in the fields of industrial collaboration and technological innovation, Professor Roger Bromley is based in the University’s new 3M Buckley Innovation Centre, where he issues a message to the business world: “If you come to us with any industrial challenge or problem then we are keen to help you.”
And he adds that, “This gritty, down-to-earth mentality is exactly what UK PLC needs. It will increase the competitiveness of our businesses and boost employment.”
Roger Bromley is Visiting Professor of Innovation and Collaboration, a title which sums up twin dimensions of his career. Bolton-born, he graduated in mathematics from Cambridge University and began to work with a number of high-tech manufacturing companies in the Manchester area.
In the mid-1990s he was involved in a large internet technology project that brought together a cluster of smaller firms, plus several universities and some big corporate players.
“That was the first time I did anything remotely collaborative and the first time I was involved with the corporate sector,” said Professor Bromley. The experience – frustrating in some respects but stimulating in others – made him realise the need for a more sophisticated understanding of collaboration and that it must be properly managed.
“I started to focus on the corporate world and, through trial and error, I like to think that I have developed some real expertise around collaborative projects – how to build partners, how to drive value from working together.
“One of the problems is that businesses tend to work in silos. But we need to work more collaboratively across boundaries,” said Professor Bromley. Also, one of his priorities is to ensure that talent and ideas from the university sector flows into industry.
His mounting expertise in collaboration has been paralleled by a highly-productive career as a technological innovator, and Roger Bromley has a key collaboration with Professor Andrew Ball, the University of Huddersfield’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise. One of their breakthroughs has been the use of technology such as sensors and wireless transmission to create smart, safety-critical fasteners for industrial use.
Professor Bromley is also working with Professor Simon Iwnicki and the Institute for Railway Research, based at the University of Huddersfield, using his considerable experience of technology transfer to the railway industry.
He is highly enthusiastic about the concept of the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre. “It is a great idea, taking the traditional spin-out science park to a really interesting new area where there is built-in integration between the Centre and the capabilities of the University. It is much richer and more meaningful than the old school of thinking.”