The landscape of the UK Research & Innovation sector is changing at an ever increasing pace. UK Industrial Strategy, Brexit, the disappearance of EU funding, KEF, the drive to demonstrate greater socio-economic impact and increased pressure in attracting and retaining top research talent are pushing research intensive UK Institutions in one direction – toward deeper collaboration with business and industry. None of this is news but the question most institutions are asking is, “do I have the right team in place, with the the right skills to deliver on this agenda?”


When it comes to increasing capacity within your team you really only have 2 options, to develop what you have or to hire in additional skills – to build or to buy.

After failing to recruit on 2 previous attempts Good Talent were asked to take on the challenge of recruiting two “Heads of” within the Research & Innovation team at Bath.


 Advertising alone was not enough.
Although a well crafted advert did generate general interest and build brand awareness, relying on a passive advertising campaign with and proprietary websites only brought us the best of the unhappy and the best of the unemployed. Even for the strongest of brands, sitting back and hoping for the right person to come along was not an effective strategy.

Our most successful results came from a comprehensive and pro-active search, taking the opportunity to market in a well researched manner and directly engaging with talent. Selling the merits of a career change to somebody who is happily employed is a vastly different process to sifting an advert response. Admittedly not a technique often used at grade 8, 9 & 10 roles, but the novelty of the method was one of the reasons for our success. In a cost effective and time sensitive manner this approach yielded a field of excellent candidates, 2 hires and a very happy customer

General skill levels in the sector can be improved.
Having engaged with a wide cross section of Research Development & Commercialisation specialists as part of the search process we began to notice a common theme. The professionals we were speaking with were very bright however their level of sales ability, influencing skills & communications prowess varied greatly.

It struck us that if the University was to succeed in fostering greater collaboration with industry then a key requisite to success was the need for improved sales, influencing and communication skills within the team. And to that end our partner firm is now delivering a first class development programme aimed at strengthening these particular soft skills and capabilities within the Research & Innovation team.

To build or buy was the question but in this case the answer was both build and buy. Given that most institutions require talent from within the sector, the University space is a talent scarce and difficult market in which to recruit. However as we proved there is another way, a proactive search methodology that not only optimises your chances of successfully hiring but more importantly ensures you secure the very best quality talent.