Universities in the North West have been urged to collaborate more with start-ups to help them grow business.
Start-ups are typically low on resource but big on ideas – and it is time that academic institutions recognised the need to support the business community.
That is the view of Michelle Hua, founder of Manchester-based Made With Glove – a wearable technology company which is looking to develop fashionable heated gloves for women.
“Collaboration is key,” she told a BusinessCloud roundtable in Manchester.
“I’ve dealt with academics and universities who work on their own schedule and don’t understand what it’s like in the real world – the commercial world.
“There are two schedules [in operation] – the commercial one, which wants to move forwards, and the academic one, which says ‘we’ve got these term breaks, we’ve got students doing this or that’.
“It’s actually stopped my business from growing for 6-8 months.
“I’ve dealt with one university which has been amazing, but it was down south in Exeter. They wanted to work with me because I had a great vision and turned something around for me in two weeks.
“That’s amazing, considering the University of Manchester didn’t even want to work with me because I was a start-up.”
Jamil Khalil, the founder of fellow Manchester business Wakelet – a web platform which allows users to save links and videos in easy-to-organise folders – says Manchester should adopt the American approach.
“I’ve been working with the universities for about a year – different bits of them,” he said.
“Had I been in Stanford [in Massachusetts] or Harvard [in California], I’d have been flying.
“There’s a proven record of how they pick up the best companies in that area and go with the flow, make it happen – they’ve got that infrastructure in place.”