What is it?
Academics or other university staff provide services to external clients which are not formally recognized by their institution. An institution may offer support services. It is relatively common although each university has different regulations on the amount of this activity staff can do. Managed, a contract negotiated, cost/price directly by the academic and paid to the academic.
Unlike research, consultancy does not have as its prime purpose the generation of new knowledge. The incentive for the academic is the interest in doing the work and the ability to retain the income. May be carried out by academic or non-academic staff such as senior university managers or administrative/support staff. Examples include acquiring technical solutions to specific business problems, expert advice, evaluation and reports on technical, business or market-related issues or development of bespoke training programmes.
Very short 0-3 months or short 0-18 months. It is not unusual for long-term professional relationships to develop with the academic which may result in a retainer being put in place.
It is costed/priced by the academic for a fee negotiated directly with the business. The fees will cover academic time in providing expert advice but the separate agreement may have to be made with the University for access to equipment, use of software, etc. The academic will cover Professional Liability Insurance if required.
Consultancy most beneficial when the business needs to access specialist expertise that is not available in-house. It can provide solutions and input to issues often at a relatively low cost and in a short timeframe. Not having to deal with the university can make the process quicker. Consultancy relationships often lead to further engagement between the business/academic.
Suitable for which Businesses?
All businesses regardless of size, from SMEs to Large multi-nationals. For specific research expertise or results which are publically or commercially sensitive. These are short-term contracts but long-term relationships can develop.
How do you engage?
Once a specific need and the type of expertise required by a business is identified, they should contact an appropriate academic directly.