Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

LSBU is a leading Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) Base partner, having collaborated with over 100 companies from a variety of sectors and industries. One such example was with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), who help people in the UK who have lost their sight find their lives again.

Encouraging collaboration

KTPs are programmes that encourage collaboration between universities and businesses in the UK.  KTPs involve three parties: a university, a recent graduate and a company – including small, medium and large companies, charities, not-for-profit organisations and the public sector.

Increasing capacity

RNIB's strategy has three clear priorities – aiming to make the UK a better place for blind and partially sighted people: preventing avoidable sight loss, supporting independent living and creating an inclusive society. One of the goals in this strategy is to increase the employment of the 79,000 blind and partially sighted people at working age. According to a data survey completed by LSBU and the University of Birmingham, the employment rate of the non-disabled population is 44% higher than that of the blind and partially sighted population.

One method of improving these statistics is through employment-related social enterprises known as Social Firms. However the presence of these organizations for blind and partially sighted people is low and further development was desperately needed.

So RNIB turned to LSBU and formed a KTP to help increase their capacity to achieve the target of increasing the employment of blind and partially sighted people at working age more effectively and at a lower overall cost.

On the project

A project was created to generate the ability to develop a business case, metrics and guidelines, and implement processes to establish new social firms to provide employment and training positions. The project was split into three phases.

The first stage for project associate Phil Sital-Singh was to build a social impact framework to assess and communicate the benefits to society of reducing unemployment rates. The second stage was to conduct study visits of successful social firms to identify good practice in social enterprise and governance in key areas. Thirdly, to build a business case based on the evidence gathered throughout the project, including Social Return on Investment analyses in order to engage resource.

Reaping the rewards

RNIB estimate new income and capacity of £6.6m and profits of £5.6m in year three after the KTP, resulting from implementation of social impact measurements across the organisation and the resultant beneficial impact on services. This capacity would not have been built without the KTP.

Aside from the obvious financial benefits the KTP, a new culture is developing with staff using new knowledge and skills to become aware of social impact evidence, empowering them to take responsibility for the impact of their services.

Read more about the RNIB on their website.

More about KTPs

Part-funded by the government, KTPs provide unique benefits to all three parties; the university as a whole, the student associate and the business. LSBU apply their knowledge and expertise to important problems facing businesses, identifying new research themes and undergraduate and post graduate projects. The results are often published in high quality journals and conference papers. Recent LSBU graduates are able to enhance their employability and skills and get the opportunity to earn a full salary. The company gets the qualities of an outstanding graduate partially paid for and the expertise and technical support of the university – who work in close connection with all parties. Read more about KTPs.


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