Research and Enterprise

Category Archives: Enterprise Support

City University London plays a major part at the Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012

Enterprise Support.

Between 21 May and 1 June, the Digital Shoreditch Festival marked the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of East London and Tech City.

As a Gold Sponsor of the festival, City University London had a cross-disciplinary presence, with participation by the School of Informatics, the School of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, the Cass Business School, the Department of Journalism, the Enterprise Office, Careers and Marketing.

Leo Castellanos from the Enterprise Office, who led the coordination of the different Schools and Departments into a City-wide concerted effort, stressed the importance of the festival for the University. He said: “The Digital Shoreditch Festival is a stepping-stone for City to tackle the phenomenon of Silicon Roundabout and engage with its community. Our objective is to raise City’s profile in Tech City and promote the message that City is the partner of choice for Tech City businesses, for everything from student internships and graduate recruitment to short courses and Continuing Professional Development to consultancy, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and collaborative research. The opportunity to engage with Tech City will in turn attract high-quality students and academics.”

City’s own Journalism students, led by John Rennie, Lecturer in Journalism, produced a digital newspaper for the festival and some of the Informatics students volunteered at the festival.

During the two weeks of Digital Shoreditch, City put on a number of events aimed at the local digital media community: the “Digital Marketing Workshop” demonstrated elements of City’s short course in Digital Marketing; the “Grow your business with City” offered a real insight into the current state and the future of the digital media sector in the UK and globally and provided plenty of opportunities for informal networking with City’s leading academics, local business and entrepreneurs, and successful investors; and the “Open Day at the City Interaction Lab” showed cutting-edge technologies which can be used to evaluate how people interact with digital content, including eye-tracking, mobile testing and multitouch interaction.

In partnership with Queen Mary, University of London, City also organised the landmark “Innovate day”, held in the Shoreditch festival headquarters at Hackney House on 22 May. The event was opened by Maggie Philbin, the high-tech specialist and reporter on BBC 1’s Inside Out. She gave a talk on what defines innovation. In the ‘Better Conversations’ section, City’s Dr Sara Jones and Dr Stephen Clulow led the discussion exploring the ways in which businesses and universities can collaborate more successfully. There was also a special exhibition demonstrating digital work (games, apps and hacks) created as part of ongoing collaborations.

For more information on what happened at the “Innovate day” please check: or the festival webpage:

City is ready for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Enterprise Support.

A recent Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) seminar organised by the Enterprise Office saw representatives from a variety of Schools and Professional Services learn about KTPs and discuss ideas for getting involved.

Academics from Cass Business School, the City Law School and the Schools of Informatics, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and Health attended the lunchtime event, along with representatives from the Development and Alumni Relations Office, Property and Facilities and the Enterprise Office.

The seminar involved three presentations.

The first, by City’s KTP adviser Jan Stringer, introduced the scheme and its benefits for academics. KTP is a national programme enabling businesses and non-for-profit organisations to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance through support from academics. In turn, participating academics can benefit by getting an opportunity to apply their knowledge and expertise to real-life problems facing businesses; developing new teaching and research material; publishing high quality papers; and contributing to the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

Jan’s presentation was followed by two case studies which delegates later said were most useful to encourage them to investigate the possibilities of getting involved in KTPs themselves.

Robert Melville, Professor of Internal Auditing from the Faculty of Management at Cass, talked about his experience of being involved in two KTP projects, both with non-governmental organisations, one of which resulted in a successful submission of academic papers based on the work carried out.

He was followed by David Hunstone, Director of Clerkenwell multimedia company Hub Productions, who has recently embarked on a KTP with Drs Simone Stumpf and George Buchanan from the Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design in the School of Informatics. Hunstone talked delegates through the KTP application process and the importance of establishing a relationship (and trust) with academics involved.

Feedback from delegates was universally positive.

To find out more, please contact Nadia Zernina-Forde in the Enterprise Office on or visit

City at the Digital Shoreditch Festival 2012

Enterprise Support, Research Support.

Mark 21 May to 1 June 2012 in your diaries, because City University London is planning exciting workshops and training events during the two weeks of the Digital Shoreditch Festival.

Digital Shoreditch is a celebration of the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of East London and Tech City. Cass Business School, the School of Informatics, the Department of Journalism and the Enterprise Office are all heavily involved in the project. Together they will organise a wide range of workshops, where the topics will vary from digital marketing to raising funding for new technology start-ups.

“Through our participation in the Digital Shoreditch Festival we aim to enhance the presence of City University London at the Silicon Roundabout”, said Leo Castellanos, who spearheads City’s involvement in Digital Shoreditch.

John Rennie, Lecturer in Journalism, is planning to run a digital newspaper during the two weeks of the event.

“John Rennie is engaging undergraduate students as volunteers to go out and cover the events, interview, get pictures, video, audio, tweet etc. for each day of the festival.  He is proposing to hold a conference each morning, and send the student reporters out on jobs, and then there will be a wrap-up each evening. John and two of his colleagues will be around all day to help students to get the content online”, said Gail Marsom, Enterprise Manager in the School of Arts.

The project is expected to build links with the local community and businesses, and has the potential to develop relationships with the growing number of digital companies in the area.

The festival will run from 21 May to 1 June 2012 and will be highlighting the thriving digital and technological talent from Clerkenwell to Stratford, Old Street to Bethnal Green and Dalston to the City and beyond. Shoreditch will be turned into a digital playground with late-night parties, open houses, workshops, interactive artworks and installations, and augmented reality games. For more information on the Festival please visit Digital Shoreditch website.

For more information about City’s involvement or to see how you can take part, please contact Leo Castellanos in the Enterprise Office on

Award for the best Enterprise Mentor at City

Enterprise Support.

The inaugural award for Enterprise Mentor of the Year 2012 was made at the annual City University London Student Impact Awards on 4 April.

City’s Student Impact Awards celebrate the success of student involvement in widening participation, volunteering and professional mentoring – and this year, for the first time, Enterprise Mentors were included in the celebration. The Enterprise Mentors are established entrepreneurs with experience in venture creation and development. The Enterprise Office recruited them to support student enterprise teams taking part in the CitySpark programme.

Janice Andersen (right), health and well-being specialist, won the Enterprise Mentor Award 2012

Piloted in autumn 2011, in cooperation with the Student Development and Outreach team, the Enterprise Mentoring Scheme provided six teams taking part in CitySpark Big Ideas Competition 2011 with the support and guidance of an experienced Enterprise Mentor. The success of the pilot was clear as three of the mentored teams won prizes for their big ideas.

The Enterprise Mentors award went to Janice Andersen, entrepreneur and specialist in natural health and well-being. Janice’s team nominated her for the extraordinary effort she put in as an Enterprise Mentor, stating that “Janice was instrumental in bringing about our success as the team placed 2nd in the CitySpark Big Ideas Competition. Her advice, research and commitment was great for our team.”

Enterprise Mentoring is becoming an important part of the CitySpark student innovation and enterprise programme as it provides the students with expert advice and inspires them by giving them insight into to the world of a professional entrepreneur.

For more information on the CitySpark student innovation and enterprise programme, please contact Tim Meldrum on or Lotta Olsson on or check CitySpark website.

Esther Bourne – You think you know, but you have no idea (until you read the article)

Enterprise Support, Research Development, Research Support.

A Farewell to Esther Bourne

By Claudia R Kalay

Does anyone still remember what he or she did on 17 September 1990?

Esther Bourne most likely will, not just because she has a good memory, but that day she took up employment at City University London as a Senior Cashier.  However I doubt whether she knew then that this place was to become her “working home” for the next… twenty-two years.

A coffee, a cigarette and something else

Having previously worked in a bank she must have dealt with some quite stressful situations and she was certainly well qualified to work as a Senior Cashier. But her time in the Cash Office was not uneventful either. A well-informed source reports that Esther only narrowly escaped disaster in the Cash Office, when her then line manager almost set fire to the office by dropping cigarette ash on papers lying on the desk (Yes! Those were still the days when smoking in offices was allowed). Quick action was needed and all available coffee and tea dregs were poured onto the papers as no fire extinguisher was in the cash office. This was possibly the first glimpse of Esther’s fearlessness, which would – no doubt – come in useful as a life-saving virtue for a later line manager.

The lady and the poster

But after four years in a sealed environment it was time to get out. She had come to see that university life is all about improving oneself and advancing one’s career as its natural outcome. Spurned by office gossip about an advert for the position of an Accounts Assistant in Research Grants and Contracts (RGC), she applied for the post and joined the team in the hot mid-August 1994.

And she stuck with it for the next eighteen years. Some people may find such prospects dull or even dreary. Well, they are wholly mistaken. The complexity of the subject demands nothing less than continual learning of new matters as research policies, funding body and auditing demands and peculiarities, academic expectations put on universities by governments, internal demand and need for restructuring and such relentlessly change… Are you already lost? Well, Esther is the master and commander in the field. And I can vouch for the fact that Esther is a keen learner and a live wire who would not put up with humdrum. She is as lively as you can get, keen and conscientious in her work, sharp in her thought. And if that is not impressive enough she is also a poster girl for the Plain English Campaign with a dry sense of humour.

Work, party and a wasp

Accounts Assistants in RGC may have come and gone but Esther and her line manager Andrea Tinson were holding the fort, very much to the benefit of the University.  In order to survive all the endless hours of hard work over Excel spreadsheets, SAP print-outs and ever more demanding funder queries (not to mention academic requests) the routine was occasionally broken by one of the famed office parties (strictly outside office hours, of course).

It was also Andrea who benefited most from Esther’s courage and stability. While Andrea jumped for cover at the sight of any wasp approaching, Esther was not fooled by those tiny mindless creatures. She stood up against them at the open window.  A quick whack with the back of her hand and the wasp was eliminated – work could continue.

Andrea and Esther – a formidable duo ruling the world of RGC at City for almost a decade after Esther had been promoted to Research Administrator in May 2003.

For my own benefit the second half of the duo decided to stay on when Andrea left for new adventures in the School of Social Sciences in October 2007. The interim period until my arrival in January 2008 was surely Esther’s hardest test but she mastered it with flying colours.  If it had not been for her ability, hard work and dedication as well as her strength in leading the team, RGC would have crumbled – at a financial cost to the University.

Even the University had eventually come to see Esther’s positive influence and she was awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Staff Prize in 2010.

The new duo

As for me, I was just glad to have her. I must have had the right credentials in her eyes. The interview panel reassured her that I looked a bit like her previous boss – the first thing Esther told me when being introduced at the CREU launch in December 2007.

It made for a great start. Now I know that I also must have glowing cheeks.

Esther is a model employee. She knows what she is doing. She does it diligently. She is very perceptive and comes up with good suggestions for improvements. She is a great team player who is willing to jump in and help out in the team when work gets tough. She is professional, straightforward and does not need to hide her qualities behind a torrent of self-glorifying pronouncements. She is well-organised – in an admin job juggling concurrently non-stop queries, requests and tasks is essential; and she does it with ease. And over time a valued friendship has settled in.

Heaven only knows, she might have delayed her departure for a few more years if it was not for that annoying comment by the Chief Financial Officer at Ken Cridland’s leaving do about it being time to move on. But even though her loss will hit me and the team hard, I am glad she placed the application for the job as Research Finance Manager at the Institute of Education, University of London. She deserves to go further in her career. Her ability needs new room to shine.

I wish her all the best as she takes up her new job on 4 June 2012 and know that she will do a great job.

P.S. Est, I knew you did not want to have a speech at your leaving do, so fully obliging, I did it in the newsletter.

City University London and Hub TV partner to improve online video interaction

Enterprise Support.

City University London and Hub TV – a multi-platform production company – are partnering to develop new technology that will make online video more interactive, resulting in a better experience for users and increased revenues for brands.

Currently, online interactive video has limited capabilities: users can only click through to related content via surrounding menus or video-embedded prompts. The new project will take a more intuitive approach, enabling viewers to interact with the video content itself.

For example, in fashion retailing, a user could click on a garment as a model walks down a catwalk, giving them further information, a close-up from a different angle or the option to buy it.

The partnership will see Drs Simone Stumpf and George Buchanan from City’s Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design share their expertise with Hub TV’s production team, which works across a diverse range of brands and organisations.

Dr Stumpf, the project’s Academic Supervisor, says: “User experience design plays a huge role in online customer satisfaction and conversion rates, but relatively little research has been done into how it applies to interactive video. Our new partnership will address this, creating a novel technology that will benefit both viewers and brands alike.”

The two-year project has been made possible through the award of £100k of funding from the Technology Strategy Board’s Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme, which was secured with support from City’s Enterprise Office team.

For more information, please contact Nadia Zernina-Forde on or come to the Knowledge Transfer Partnership introductory seminar on Monday, 2 April from 12.30 pm in the Convocation Suite.

London City Incubator start-up “springboards” off winning idea

Enterprise Support.

The Backscratchers, a London City Incubator (LCI) supported company and CitySpark’s 2011 winner, has been selected to participate in a prestigious start-up accelerator programme providing seed funding of £15k and continued mentorship.

School of Arts Masters students Jody Osbourne and Patrick Elliott will be attending a mentoring-led accelerator programme for start-ups after their winning idea was selected by Springboard.

In addition, they will receive seed funding of £15k from the organisation to develop their company, a skills exchange and community website for creative industry professionals.

After receiving the top prize in CitySpark’s finals in 2011, which included £5k and a place in the London City Incubator, the team progressed their project and went on to recruit a Chief Technology Officer. They will now be heading to Silicon Roundabout to take part in an intensive 13-week programme starting this April in support of taking their product to market.

Springboard provides seed capital and office space, and puts start-up hopefuls in touch with mentors and other entrepreneurs. The experience culminates in an Investor Day where the teams present to venture capitalists and angel investors. Historically, over 50 per cent of the start-ups who enter these programmes have succeeded in raising a further round of funding.

For more information contact Leo Castellanos on

Short courses hits annual target in second term

Enterprise Support.

City’s short courses team hit its annual income target in the second term, exceeding expectations for enrolment in the 2011/12 fiscal year.

Business and computing courses are leading the way in the boost to the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) unit, which relies on self-funding for its operation. The additional income will be reinvested to foster further growth, in part by funding a marketing campaign beginning this summer led by our newly appointed consultant Sue Whittle (nee Gunn).

But for anyone interested in getting the inside scoop now, some upcoming events are on the agenda. An open evening is scheduled for 2 April in the Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre Foyer and, while checking out the courses, City staff can find out if their selections qualify for a 50 per cent discount.

The launch of The Novel Studio is taking place on 24 April, but has already been fully booked. Aspiring novelists wishing to find out about the year-long novel writing course will hear from published alumni Campaspe Lloyd-Jacob and Jennifer Gray as well as course director Emily Pedder.

The Novel Studio begins this autumn and offers 15 selected students the unique opportunity to work exclusively on their novels for a year. If you missed this information round, a further opportunity to find out about the course may be made available in early May. If you would like to be invited, please email with your full name and email address including ‘Launch of The Novel Studio’ in the subject line.

For more information, contact Bill Richardson on

City’s business incubator taps into “hot desking”

Enterprise Support.

The London City Incubator has made an agreement with a local “hot desk” provider in support of City’s budding entrepreneurs. Office space at Clerkenwell Workshops will now offer an additional benefit for incubator residents who are in the later stages of their start-ups.

Hot desking is an office organisation system which involves sharing a single physical space among multiple users during different time periods. A primary motivation for hot desking is cost reduction through space savings – up to 30 per cent according to some estimates.

Located just five minutes from City’s Northampton Square site, Clerkenwell Workshops provides space for the creative and digital media community. It accommodates over 75 innovative small businesses which take advantage of the studio and workshop space, an external courtyard, bar and café and various meeting rooms.

“This is an excellent development for our incubator residents working in digital media, who will benefit not just from the physical office space and relevant amenities but also from interacting with other like-minded people working in the same industry,” said Leo Castellanos, City’s Incubator Manager.

He added: “There is also hot desk space provided by the London City Incubator on site in the Enterprise Office, Drysdale Building, Room E310, which can be accessed by both interns and incubating companies and is equipped with computers, internet and access to many online databases.”

For more information, contact Leo Castellanos in the Enterprise Office on

City’s Enterprise Office helps Professor Sun win further follow-on funding

Enterprise Support.

The University has been awarded £140k from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to collaborate with the Home Office Scientific Development Branch and Smiths Detection on the technology aimed at replacing sniffer dogs in the hunt for smuggled drugs.

Over the next year, the partnership will aim to create a portable prototype with real-time, multi-drug sensing capability, which can find illegal substances in hard-to-reach areas such as vehicles and containers that are crossing borders.

Tong Sun, Professor of Sensor Engineering at City, is the project’s Principal Investigator. She explains: “We have already developed a portable, highly sensitive and selective optical fibre-based sensor that is capable of detecting cocaine. This new funding will enable us to work with a leading provider of threat detection equipment and one of the key users of such technology to create a commercially viable product.”

The funding was secured with help from City’s Enterprise Office, which will also provide on-going market research to shape the product development and commercialisation process.

For more information about how the Enterprise Office can help you apply for follow-on funding, please contact Annabel Vereker on

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.

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