On March 19 the Victorian Branch held its first meeting of 2019. The Branch’s AGM was followed by Dr Shirley Coleman discussing how she has demonstrated the impact of her work with industry partners.
Dr Coleman’s seminar on demonstrating impact was a great insight into the mutually beneficial relationship between the Industrial Statistics Research Unit (ISRU, Newcastle University, UK) and small to medium enterprises (SMEs). In order to maintain funding, one of the requirements of university departments in the UK is to demonstrate the impact of the research they conduct. Dr Coleman walked us through a few examples where the research unit she directs has engaged industry to apply statistical thinking and methods to help SMEs make sense of their data.
Examples included working with a gas utility company to improve supply forecasting, and analysing auto parts lookup data to determine the average lifecycle of particular auto parts and how this varied by brand. The results of the ISRU’s work with industry partners meant there was a tangible figure to demonstrate the impact of their research – such as the amount of money saved by the utility provider due to the better estimates of supply.
Doing this work with industry was not without its challenges however, as Dr Coleman discussed. Often the industry partners were hesitant when it came to publications, a key requirement of demonstrating impact, voicing their concerns about their operational data and conclusions drawn from it being available in the public domain. Not only does the ISRU have to placate their industry partners, they also have to work within strict rules on which journals can count towards demonstrating impact. Dr Coleman’s seminar was particularly timely with the renewed focus of Australian funding bodies on the demonstration of the impact of research: her lessons on how to do this will surely be heeded by many audience members!
The seminar was preceded by the Victorian Branch’s AGM, at which Dr Damjan Vukcevic was welcomed as incoming President of the Branch, and Dr Rheanna Mainzer and Ben Harrap were welcomed to the council. Prof Ian Gordon and Dr Nick Tierney were farewelled, and we thank them for their hard work on the council.