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Launch of new Trinity academic consultancy office, CONSULT Trinity™

Article by Dr Kate Smyth, Consultancy Officer, Trinity Research and Innovation

Last week, CONSULT Trinity ™, a new service designed to support Trinity academics in carrying out consultancy work, was launched at the School of Nursing and Midwifery on D’Olier Street. Despite the threat of Storm Lorenzo, Trinity staff members gathered to learn more about what it means to be an academic consultant and why it is worthwhile.

The opening remarks were made by the new Vice-Provost, Professor Juergen Barkhoff, who emphasised how working as a consultant can be beneficial to Trinity academics of all areas and disciplines. He highlighted the opportunity for academics to apply their unique knowledge and experience to solve a client’s problem or address a challenge, and how researchers from the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in particular have an opportunity now to engage in “knowledge transfer” through consultancy activities. This can help academics to enlarge their networks, create opportunities for potential collaborations or projects, and generate new funding streams that can be put back into their research or teaching activities.

The services offered by CONSULT Trinity™, which is housed in Trinity Research and Innovation, were outlined by the Consultancy Development Manager, Dr Joanne Conroy, who gave examples of the many different forms that academic consultancy can take, from gathering information for a client and writing up a report, to testing and analysing materials, to reviewing government strategies and policies. Academics can make a real impact on society or industry, and gain insights that can inform research and teaching.

From left: Dr Declan Weldon (Deputy Director of Trinity Research and Innovation), Dr Joanne Conroy (Consultancy Development Manager), and Vice-Provost Professor Juergen Barkhoff.

To give examples of successful consultancy work, speakers Aljosa Smolic (SFI Res Professor of Creative Technologies of the School of Computer Science and Statistics) and Dr Rebecca Usherwood (Assistant Professor in Late Antique and Early Byzantine Studies) shared their experiences. Professor Smolic’s discussion of his work on the development of 3D characters for a production company, and his collaboration with Dr Nicholas Johnson, Assistant Professor in Department of Drama and convenor of the Creative Arts Practice research theme at the Trinity Long Room Hub. They collaborated to bring Samuel Beckett’s theatrical text Play (1963) to life using augmented reality technology, suggesting the potential inter-disciplinary nature of consultancy work.

From left: Dr Rebecca Usherwood, Professor Aljosa Smolic, Dr Amanda Zeffmann, Dr Joanne Conroy

Dr Usherwood described her experience of providing advice on the accuracy of an ancient society for a forthcoming TV show, suggesting that the consultancy work helped develop her confidence as an early career academic in her expertise in the field and the possibility of generating impact from this knowledge in ways outside of teaching and publications. Finally, Dr Amanda Zeffmann, who is Head of Consultancy Services at Cambridge Enterprise Limited of the University of Cambridge, provided a shining example of how successful academic consultancy can be for academics, clients, and the university itself. The event was concluded by Leonard Hobbs, Director of Trinity Research and Innovation, who emphasised the wealth of knowledge possessed by Trinity researchers throughout the college, and its potential significance. In a time of significant global uncertainty – from political upheaval to the climate crisis to social inequality – academics have the opportunity through engaging in consultancy to make a significant difference for the public good.

From left: Consultancy Development Manager, Dr Joanne Conroy, and Consultancy Development Officer, Dr Kate Smyth

CONSULT Trinity liaises with the client on the academic’s behalf, leaving them to get on and do with work. The academic’s freedom to engage in their work is prioritised, and they can choose whether to class a project as consultancy or research. CONSULT Trinity offers to guide this process, and to relieve the academic of any administrative burden in terms of contracts, insurance, and invoicing.

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October 2019