How businesses can work with IfM

Working with business is fundamental to everything we do at IfM: our researchers work with industry to understand their challenges and to develop cutting-edge solutions to them; our students work in companies on real industrial problems; and our dissemination arm, IfM Engage, transfers new ideas developed by IfM researchers to companies through consultancy and executive and professional development.


Research and practice networks

In some areas, we have established networks in which companies can share their knowledge and experience in a non-competitive environment. These include:


The Strategic Technology and Innovation Management (STIM) Consortium is a practice-oriented research and networking collaboration between industrial member companies and the Centre for Technology Management.


The Sustainability Association provides member companies with the right knowledge, right expertise and right network to accelerate sustainable change in their organisation.


The IP interest group is for manufacturing companies where participants meet regularly to discuss IP related issues from a business perspective, such as technology acquisitions or how patent data can be used to identify development partners. The Strategic IP Forum is an open event for businesses from the Cambridge region and beyond aimed CTOs, portfolio managers, VPs, Technology, Heads of Innovation/IP/licensing. 


The Open Innovation Forum in Food and FMCG brings together a number of companies from different stages of the value chain to share best practice and explore 'hot topics'.


The Digital Supply Chains Consortium enables companies, using IfM frameworks and approaches, to share best practice and develop their capabilities in this rapidly changing context.  


Research collaborations

We work with many companies on a range of timescales. Some companies have built long-term relationships within us to collaborate on leading-edge research, for example with PhD students looking at fundamental topics of interest. Sometimes, there will be contracts to fund Research Associates looking at more immediate issues, for example, the implementation of new technologies or capabilities. These programmes are managed by experienced academics and senior researchers who work closely with the company to establish the course for the collaboration and ensure it is delivered to a high standard.


If you know the area in which you are interested or perhaps know the researcher with whom you would like to work, please make direct contact. If you are not sure how best to start or would welcome some help in exploring possibilities and opportunities, please contact Professor Duncan McFarlane.



IfM Engage has a team of Industrial Associates, all with industrial experience at a senior level, who work closely with IfM researchers to deliver solutions to companies in a number of key areas:

  • Innovation and technology management
  • Transforming global operations networks
  • Making the shift to services
  • Business strategy and business model innovation


Professional Development

We run bespoke executive and professional development programmes for manufacturing and technology companies to help them develop the skills, knowledge and behaviours they need, particularly in this new digital era. We also run a range of open courses on key IfM research topics to support continuous professional development.


Student projects

Companies of all sizes – from multinationals to SMEs – host student projects and benefit from the input of our bright and highly motivated students. Either individually or in teams, our high calibre students, mentored by their lecturers, address a significant organisational challenge and present a full report to the management team at the end of the project.


In recent projects, students have completely redesigned a company’s new product development process, proposed new ways of dealing with significant variance across a company’s fresh food product lines and created a plan for optimising the storage of large pre-cast concrete products across multiple sites.


The projects are carried out by students studying for the Industrial Systems, Manufacture and Management (ISMM) MPhil and those in their final (4th) year of the Manufacturing Engineering Tripos (MET) which leads to an MEng qualification.