• Fri. Jun 21st, 2024

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How a University partnership is helping Wearside’s oldest manufacturer sail to success


One of Wearside’s oldest manufacturers has described a University of Sunderland partnership as being “instrumental” in helping generate its best first quarter results since its records began almost 200 years ago.

Speedings Ltd began life as a sailmaker in 1827 but has adapted its core business over the last two centuries and now produces innovative lifesaving personal safety products for emergency services across the UK.

To meet its growth plans and the challenges of a competitive international market, the family business is strengthening its production and workforce through the University of Sunderland’s Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (mKTP) programme, which supports business innovation.

An mKTP is a three-way collaboration between the business, the University, and a recently qualified graduate or postgraduate – known as the mKTP Associate. The graduate manages the project on behalf of the company, with the University lending its expertise.

Each project can last up to three years, transferring and embedding new knowledge and skills to encourage business growth and innovation.

Speedings’ mKTP is for two years, and despite only starting in January this year, the company is already reaping the benefits, having generated its best ever first quarter results.

Rob Hammel, Speedings CEO, said: “We are acutely aware that we operate in a highly competitive global market and the importance in investing in not just new technology but also in our amazing workforce. Hence, our close working relationship with the University of Sunderland’s Business School in securing a Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership is tangibly contributing to Speedings’ growth strategy, cultural transformation, and production line efficiency. The corollary of which has been instrumental in generating the best first quarter results exceeding 15% since our records began.”

Dr Derek Watson, Associate Professor in Cultural Management at the University of Sunderland and academic lead for the project, said: “Our relationship with Speedings is growing from strength to strength. The mKTP is proving an excellent catalyse for improved productivity in sourcing the expertise from both the University’s business and engineering schools.

“Working with Speedings authentic leadership and highly committed workforce, we have been able to establish an employee’s voice to cultivate an innovative environment to meet its expanding client portfolio both in the UK and overseas.

“Such a dynamic environment is also being embedded into our curriculum, to further bridge the gap between theory and practice via live projects and placements, which provides vital employability exposure within our student community.”

Constance Pamsm-Conteh, who graduated from the University of Sunderland with a Master’s degree in Human Resource Management in 2021, is Speedings’ mKTP Associate.

She said: “As a University of Sunderland alumni student, I was delighted in being offered as mKTP Associate at Speedings. Whilst my role is demanding it is equally highly rewarding in working with such a dynamic and loyal workforce and helping to transition Speedings’ strategy into sustained expansion.

“The support provided by Speedings’ executive and University academics is certainly fermenting an entrepreneurial culture in which we collectively embrace challenges and celebrate success.”

The mKTP programme is supported by Innovate UK.

For more information on the University of Sunderland’s mKTP programme, visit: https://www.sunderland.ac.uk/more/enterprise-innovation/projects/knowledge-transfer-partnership/management-knowledge-transfer-partner