Royal Academy of Engineering

Bringing together the most successful and talented engineers

The Client

As the UK’s national academy for engineering, the Royal Academy of Engineering brings together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. The Academy provides analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. The Academy takes a lead on engineering education and invests in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. The Academy works to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. The primary objective of the LIF programme is to build the entrepreneurship capacity of engineering researchers within a number of Newton Fund partner countries to support commercialisation of their research-based innovation. The programme is aimed at researchers within those countries who are at the point of developing a business proposition for their innovation. The programme brings a cohort of these researchers – selected on the basis of the excellence of their research, the potential of their innovation, and their qualities as an applicant – to the UK. During a residential programme, each cohort benefits from a focussed period of training in entrepreneurship, time and access to expert coaches in developing their business plans, and the opportunity to work in teams on a genuine challenge or opportunity faced by a UK-based technology driven organisation.

The Brief

There are over 700 LIF Fellows (‘Fellows’) in the LIF alumni community, and 200 more will be joining with the launch of LIF5 in autumn 2018. Currently, however, there is no one single channel to allow Fellows to interact across cohorts, and to sharing knowledge and resources. Although the cohorts have used different social media groups to communicate in the past (including, WhatsApp Groups, Slack, Telegram, Facebook groups) -- and some are even still active -- these have a number of limitations. The objectives of of project were:

  1. To provide a versatile, content-rich website for Fellows to interact with each other and share knowledge and resources
  2. To give Fellows the opportunity to ‘showcase’ their innovation to the outside world – promoting themselves and the programme
  3. To share news, and store content and training materials for Fellows before, during and after the LIF programme

Functionally the key objectives were to facilitate:

  1. Community-generated content: Social media content has a limited lifespan; these tools are not set-up to capture and store (and allow others to search) the knowledge of the whole community.
  2. Communication across cohorts: The current social media/chat groups are established mainly to communicate while Fellows are attending the London residency; there is no one single interactive communication channel.
  3. Share experiences and successes from more experienced Fellows: Fellows in the older cohorts will be further advanced and can be a resource and advisor to newer Fellows.
  4. Promote and enable impact from Fellow’s innovations: In addition to internal community knowledge sharing, the Fellows require a platform, a website where they can
  5. showcase their innovation and promote it to others. A community website with a public facing component featuring “innovation profiles” for the Fellows would give them a “landing page” they could direct people to, and also create prestige by being a part of a larger international community

The Solution

The Royal Academy of Engineering were existing Kentico users and host on their own environment and found this CMS platform ideal for their business. Due to the extensive experience of Spindogs developers and project managers with Kentico it was a natural decision to rebuild on this platform. With very specific project requirements, Kentico’s capabilities were the most suitable choice for what they needed. Closely linked their RAE’s business goals and the success of the organisation it was imperative these goals were achieved, due to Kentico’s ease to use, high levels of customisability and advanced features this was the perfect solution for both the client and Spindogs. The following are just some of the specific requirements needed by RAE -

  1. The ability to create community groups specifically group media libraries in order to apply permissions to any given cohort.
  2. The creation of forums, to allow cohorts not only to discuss topics at a cohort level but also at a generic level as well.
  3. Polls, to allow members to give quick feedback on questions
  4. Extended the forms modules to allow members to update their own user and innovation profile. This is used in conjunction with workflow so new updates are approved by content editors.
  5. Kentico import toolkit, members and innovation profiles are updated whenever a new cohort is ready.  Modifications have been made to minimise the effort required in order to finalise the content for publication.

Feature rich and exceptionally scalable, the specific requirements from RAE were essential for the business requirements and were easily enabled using Kentico. The ideal solution for this project.

The Results

The Royal Academy of Engineering - Leader in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) Online Community is a place for LIF fellows to create, learn, explore and innovate together online. The website is central hub for fellows. The objectives of the new website was to enable fellows to the following:

  • Showcase a fellows Innovation Profile to a global audience
  • To find out about the latest funding opportunities, fellowships, awards and events
  • Receive mentoring and training through expert-lead webinars and online events
  • Network with 5 years of LIF fellow Alumni - world-wide
  • Ask questions, join in with forum discussions, vote in polls and keep in touch with your LIF friends.

Meeting all the above objectives was imperative in this project and the Kentico platform allowed all objectives to be met with its functionalities

The website launched in December 2018 so currently being too early for results RAE have had very positive feedback on the website from the fellows and currently seeing an ever growing increase in levels of engagement in the community.