Published on in EducationUncategorizedInnovationDigital Transformation

It is Halloween but I don’t have a spooky feeling at all, actually I’m really looking forward to it!  Why?

I am travelling to meet Nottingham Trent University (NTU) to formalise an important milestone in our ongoing strategic relationship and further strengthening our overall connected services ecosystem, but more about that shortly..

The day in Nottingham started off in a really “cool” way: meeting with a partner at The Portal Datacentre to see our innovative Immersive Fujitsu cooling technology in action.

Throughout my career, I have focused on business challenges and addressing them through innovation driven by applications and supporting technologies.  So, when I look at hardware innovation I normally defer to my learned colleagues on the technical capabilities (if you’re interested have a look at this link!).

“Is that a fridge for servers?” one colleague joked. What captured my imagination with this technology is that it illustrates the innovative technology Fujitsu is providing through co-creation and the value that derives from our partners. Driving significant opportunity for energy savings, better use of space (such as data centres) and thus significant reduction in need for space, as well as increased and more consistent servers performance too – I was impressed. Whilst also looking at gaming PCs for one of my kids – he wants great and consistent PC performance and I certainly can see cooling technologies are more important than ever in new PCs – I couldn’t help wishing I had a spare “fridge for servers” to be able to use for the forthcoming PC too!

After an interesting start to the day with our imaginations fuelled, we set off to meet our strategic partner, Nottingham Trent University.

In October, Fujitsu announced an update to our global management direction (link), with a clear emphasis on our ecosystem for connected services.  We have already recognised the need to use a co-creation approach to learn together with our customers and partner ecosystem, in order to achieve great results and value more quickly than ever before (see also a thought leadership piece “Co-creation by nature: Ecosystems drive value creation in the digital age”link).

We all talk about how the market is changing quickly, more so than ever before and for me this means we can’t just move fast and evolve but we also need to learn together and collaborate much more effectively and closely with others. In particular, the collaboration between industry and academia is key to unlocking the huge potential in this area.

We had some great discussions at a Fujitsu World Tour event in London during the summer, where five universities (NTU, Swansea, Glasgow, Queens Belfast and Manchester Metropolitan) joined us to discuss and debate the impact of academia and industry today and in the future.  There was a unanimous consensus that collaboration with industry is vital: for learning, skills and employability through benefiting universities utilising industry insight and experience as well as for industry benefiting with enhanced skills and research capabilities.  This was also a fantastic testament to our existing collaborations, such as in Swansea university and being co-located at the heart of the business school, security with Queens Belfast and CSIT (Centre for Secure Information Technologies) and with NTU too.  Here is a link to a video from the event too where we discussed some aspects of this together.

I have learnt over previous months that NTU is a university clearly very proud of its history and heritage, whilst recognising it needs to evolve and change quickly to ensure students are enthused and motivated to achieve at the university through wider employability and societal impact.  We have a very strong match of values between NTU and Fujitsu which is important, and with NTU’s 175 year history and Fujitsu a “mere” 83 years old we can appreciate how we need to build on pride and history but move forward too.

The purpose of the day was planned specifically to formalise and cement our relationship with the signing of our Strategic Relationship Agreement, a key milestone evidencing our progress already as well as plans moving forward.  It was fantastic to spend time sharing our perspectives and plans for moving forward together.

Our strategic relationship covers three key areas, see below and this link has more information on the collaboration of our organisations:

  1. Research and development (R&D): NTU and Fujitsu will actively identify R&D opportunities such as jointly pursuing innovative projects and seeking associated funding opportunities focused on generating new products, processes and services, which benefit customers, employees and students.
  2. Partnership: focused on collaborative business planning and strategic engagement, the agreement facilitates identifying common priorities and campaigns for continued partnership.
  3. Skills and employability: the partnership will deliver on a number of areas around teaching and learning, work experience and employment. Examples include shaping and developing education curriculum and helping to identify student projects, live briefs and wider examples of teaching materials to be used by students.

NTU’s credentials, pride and progress are clearly evidenced through being named University of the Year 2017 at the Times Higher Education Awards and Modern University of the Year in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018, nicely matching various achievements and recent awards from Fujitsu too.  Our mutual values and passion to make a difference and impact to people, supporting their wellbeing, celebrating and incorporating diversity throughout and driving wider value to society really came through strongly.

My own passion has been enhanced through involvement in supporting Fujitsu colleagues with organisations such as the Prince’s Trust, BITC (Business in the Community), DWP (Department for Work and Pensions), Macmillan Cancer, Autistica with supporting young people and cultural communities to support them within and being reintroduced into the workplace.  NTU’s passion to support diversity and impressive engagement with, for example, diverse communities and for instance poorer families successfully completing their university course and achieving employment successfully at rates higher than the majority of other universities. This is a special ingredient in our relationship that means we are already achieving fascinating outcomes together and so much more will come through our collaboration.

Our co-creation project to support mental health and autism in the workplace through BuddyConnect, benefiting employees and students through our work together has a significantly positive impact to the people involved.  I find in my discussions with customers, analysts, partners, colleagues as well as family and friends that the importance of this cannot be understated and is not just about doing something “nice” to help people but fundamentally supports people through increasingly changing and stressful environments that supports their own wellbeing and also benefits their own and wider organisation productivity.   This really shows the collaboration of industry and academia can achieve great results.

As we’ve said in the press release, our agreement with NTU aims to open up wider collaboration with other partners, such as further education colleges, universities, industry, expert and SME (small and medium enterprises) partners, who share their values and are eager to collaborate to make positive change across the globe.  The engagements already underway and the potential together is significant – especially for our customers and impacting of wider society together.

On leaving NTU, while passing a number of people dressed up in very interesting spooky costumes I reflected on the day and where next.  I left Nottingham thankfully not spooked at all, but having learnt even more about our ecosystem collaboration during the day and looking ahead to exciting combined value we can drive into the market together.

Certainly an educational day; let’s see where it takes us.

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