What is consultancy?
“My consultancy work is leading to more collaboration, more publications and further grant opportunities, both nationally and internationally.”
—Professor Alison Holmes, Department of Medicine
Consultancy is a great way to use your academic knowledge and skills to make an impact beyond academia.
What is consultancy?
Consultancy is when you use your existing knowledge and expertise to solve problems for external organisations.
Unlike some other ways of bringing your expertise to the commercial world, consulting is driven by the needs of an external organisation – the client – and they generally own any output or intellectual property developed during the project.
Imperial’s academics are attractive to firms looking for consultants for many reasons. The cutting-edge skills and knowledge of our staff; our world-class reputation; and the support provided by Imperial Consultants and Imperial Projects, which makes the process easy for both the client and the consultant.
Consulting can take many different forms and be for many different types of client, from SMEs to multinationals, governments and other universities.
The most common is when a commercial organisation needs to draw on technical expertise or facilities they don’t have in-house. It can include solving problems, evaluating technology, testing materials or samples, providing training and workshops to staff, thought leadership, or sitting on an advisory board.
Acting as an expert witness also falls under the umbrella of consulting.
Why would you undertake consultancy?
Consulting can bring many benefits to academics. Engaging with external organisations gives you the chance to see first-hand the social and economic impact of your research and expertise.
- It helps you to think beyond the parameters of your current research, and to learn about the specific challenges being faced in industry at that moment. This can give you ideas for new directions to take your research in, and help you stay at the leading edge of your field.
- It can give you ‘real world’ case studies that can sometimes be used in teaching, and included in REF.
- It helps you build relationships with people in industry and other academics, which can create opportunities for future collaborations, whether in academia or consulting. This can help build a positive feedback loop where consulting opportunities drive the development of your research and vice versa.
And, of course, it serves as an extra source of income – which, if you work through Imperial Consultants, can either be taken personally as income or transferred to your department's 'F account' to fund research, PhDs, buy equipment, attend conferences, and so on.