Norfolk Business Awards: ‘Thinking Without Borders’

UEA facilitates innovation, collaboration and knowledge exchange with businesses of all sectors and

UEA facilitates innovation, collaboration and knowledge exchange with businesses of all sectors and sizes Picture: David Kirkham - Credit: Archant

The Norfolk Business Awards 2020 is officially open for entries! Prof Fiona Lettice, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation, and Prof Laura Bowater, academic director for innovation at UEA, tell us more about the Knowledge Pioneer award.

Why have you chosen to support the Norfolk Business Awards?

UEA is delighted to be supporting the Norfolk Business Awards. These awards continue to shine a light on, and celebrate, the diverse nature of Norfolk’s economy. We have everything from agriculture to the financial industries, to heritage and cultural tourism as well as a nationally-recognised digital tech sector.

Perhaps even more importantly, the awards celebrate the passionate and committed people behind these industries. These awards show why Norfolk is such a special place to do business.

Prof Fiona Lettice, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation Picture: David Kirkham

Prof Fiona Lettice, pro-vice-chancellor for research and innovation Picture: David Kirkham - Credit: Archant

How important is collaboration in creating pioneering work?

At UEA we pride ourselves on collaboration, we call it ‘Thinking Without Borders’. Collaboration powers our world-leading research, making new discoveries and developing new theories which have a real-world impact. This benefits society, the economy, culture, policy, health and the environment.

Ultimately, collaboration is the key to successful pioneering work. Collaboration allows people to come together to address crucial challenges, as we have seen over recent months during the Covid-19 crisis.

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Amongst other projects, we have worked with businesses and individuals from across the region to support the production of hand sanitiser and face shields, and to provide childcare support to health and care workers.

Prof Laura Bowater, academic director for innovation Picture: David Kirkham

Prof Laura Bowater, academic director for innovation Picture: David Kirkham - Credit: Archant

How does sharing knowledge accelerate innovation?

Businesses of all sizes and sectors benefit from acquiring, applying and sharing knowledge.

At UEA we are committed to helping facilitate knowledge exchange in our business community as we understand that the sharing of knowledge between different people, organisations and sectors leads to true innovation.

We have seen this most recently during the Covid-19 crisis, with businesses coming together and working outside their usual areas of activity to meet the needs of the community.

Why is it important to pass on knowledge from boardroom to break room?

A culture of sharing knowledge throughout all levels of an organization (including upwards from break room to boardroom) is hugely beneficial.

By harnessing the collective experience and expertise of as many people as possible, you can address challenges and achieve strategic objectives.

Knowledge exchange is part of UEA’s ethos of interdisciplinarity in our teaching, research, innovation and other activities. We know that it can accelerate innovation and lead to new and exciting discoveries.

What advice would you give those who are considering entering?

Be proud of what you have achieved. Tailor your application so that it clearly highlights the full extent of knowledge exchange and collaboration within your company. Explain the positive impact it has for those involved and how you have tackled business challenges.

Make sure that your passion for sharing knowledge is clear.

At UEA, passion is at the forefront of everything we do, it is important we see this value reflected in you. Please feel free to add specific examples that evidence this passion in your company.

What will you be looking for in the winner of your category?

The winner of this category, whether they are a business, networking group, not-for-profit or other organisation, will be able to demonstrate a strong commitment to acquiring and instilling knowledge within the organisation in order to solve challenges and achieve their objectives.

The winner will be enthusiastic about ambitious collaborative working with cross-sector partners – and will be able to provide examples of projects with suppliers, customers, peers or research organisations that have benefitted from and been driven forward by active collaborations.

Knowledge Pioneer award criteria

This award recognises ambitious businesses with a commitment to acquiring and instilling knowledge in their organisation in order to achieve their strategic goals.

Successful applicants will place pronounced importance in developing partnerships with other organisations, with a cross-sector approach to their activities in order to find innovative solutions to business challenges. This could include working with research institutions, or in partnership with suppliers, customers, cross-sector organisations or peer networks.

Finalists will display an enthusiasm for pioneering collaborative work based on their acquisition and application of knowledge. This could be achieved through innovative solutions to increase productivity, profitability and financial sustainability or by developing novel technological applications or software.

The successful organisation could provide a platform bringing together companies to acquire and share knowledge, or could be involved in networks collaborating to accelerate innovation by sharing ideas with different organisations across varying sectors.

To enter the Norfolk Business Awards visit