The 3rd TRUSS ITN training week was held both in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and in University College Dublin (UCD) (Ireland) from Monday 15th to Friday 19th January 2018, both included. In the first two training weeks, the core modules were focused on research (i.e., training in University of Nottingham and in Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya), as these skills were required for ESRs to undertake their investigation in subsequent years. Conversely, core business skills are imparted in the 3rd training week when results are available and these skills are needed to exploit/communicate them. The modules in the 3rd week are designed to help ESRs to develop their own ideas, to apply for research funding, to exploit the commercial value of their research and to lead spin-outs/new companies in a diverse range of areas. This training has equipped ESRs with the ability to maximize the impact and application of their research.
The training week in TCD-UCD has been an educational collaboration between both universities aimed to have a positive impact on individual’s personal and professional development of each ESR by developing and nurturing creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and teamwork. On Monday and Tuesday, the venue has been the Bank of Ireland quarters in TCD. On Wednesday, training has taken place in the Ardmore House in UCD and on Thursday and Friday, the venue has been a project room of the Civil Engineering building in UCD. Within business and entrepreneurship skills, the following aspects have been covered: entrepreneurship, intellectual property (IP), management, ethics, commercialisation and exploitation. The potential routes to commercialization and the key business feasibility questions have been considered with respect to technical and market assessment, negotiations with potential licensees, business plans and preparation for a company spin-out. An essential grounding in matters relating to the exploitation of IP, for students interested in both academic and industrial careers, have been facilitated.
In addition to business skills, other sessions have been specifically designed to promote communication in researchers (including grant proposal writing and succeeding at interviews and applications), and to assist candidates in performing independent research, communicating their ideas, and making a unique addition to the body of knowledge. ESRs have been given training on how scientific discoveries are effectively communicated to a wider, lay audience (including people management), and commercialisation experts have advised on how to communicate ideas within industry, e.g., how to convince investors to fund commercialisation of new RTD.
A one-day course on Project Management has contributed to address a training need contemplated in the grant agreement and also highlighted by the Project Officer and ESRs during the midterm review meeting. ESRs have been introduced to the application and integration of the project management processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. The course has focused on the waterfall management model and the successful delivery of the ‘triple constraints’: scope, cost and time.
The table below gives the distribution of modules and their titles.
|Type of Module||Name of Module||No. hours|
|Project Progress||Update on project progress||1|
|Business Skills||Concept to commercialisation||1|
|Stages of funding. Being investor ready||1|
|Entrepreneurship & SME formation||1|
|Creating organisational structures||2|
|Commercialisation and Exploitation||2|
|Project Management Course||Defining a project, how and why we use the Waterfall PM model; project requirement gathering: Charter and scope of works; the triple constraints (scope/cost/time); your role as a PM||7|
|Communication/transferable Skills Modules||Working with industry on collaborative research projects||1|
|Leadership & people management / Managing change||2|
|Grant writing – a short guide to survival and success||1|
|Career planning for PhD students||1|
|How to succeed at interview||1|
|Team Activities||Cultural and technical visit to Book of Kells and Irish folklore||6|
|Research Seminars||Presentations by Early Stage Researchers on their research and consortium/DSP feedback on PCDP||5|
All fourteen ESRs attended the training week. Principal investigators and supervisors joined on Thursday the 18th to attend presentations by the fellows on their progress and to give them advice on their Personal Career Development Plans (PCDPs). Also on Thursday, TRUSS Consortium held their sixth Supervisory Board Meeting, which was attended by the ESR representative, Barbara Heitner. On Friday afternoon, answers to a confidential questionnaire were gathered from ESRs to identify those modules found more useful for their future career and to propose new training to cover their needs or a follow-up to existing training.