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Charlotte Bell is a Senior Business Partnerships Manager in the Business Partnerships Office, Medical Sciences Division. In her story, Charlotte talks about her role managing collaborations with major companies like Bristol Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson, the similarities and differences between industrial and academic research, and the rewarding aspects of her job.

Charlotte Bell alongside the quote "The most exciting part of my job is the variety of relationships and initiatives that I am involved in and the satisfaction I get from helping people to achieve their aims."

How does the  Business Partnerships Office  help researchers? 

Our team develop relationships and collaborations between the university and industrial partners, and manage a number of strategic alliances with UK-based and international businesses. We work to understand company interests and academic specialisms, and interface with other key university teams to help to get collaborative projects off the ground quickly.

What is your role within the team? 

I am a Senior Business Partnerships Manager and oversee and manage relationships with strategic alliances with Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson and Johnson Innovative Medicine, GSK, UCB plus others. This sees me support relationship building and develop opportunities for communication and collaboration between the university and these companies. I do this through coordinating meetings and joint seminar series, and running fellowship calls and alliance days to bring all partners together to review and develop projects. I help to put companies who are interested in working with Oxford in touch with academics who I think may have relevant expertise, and where the company and academic can find mutual benefit. Not all our interactions lead to projects being funded and relationships growing, but as with any relationship, things take time and can ebb and flow. I also lead on some aspects of the University Knowledge Exchange strategy for engagement with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

Are there big differences in the research happening in industry vs academia?  

Lots of cutting-edge, basic and translational research goes on in industry that is really not that dissimilar to academia. One of our Fellows was really enlightened after visiting their aligned company and realising that their research activities were similar to theirs and that the research wasn’t any less rigorous or innovative. I wish that researchers had more opportunities to spend time with industry, to experience how research is conducted in this setting, and to soak up the chance to see things from a different perspective. These opportunities are not always easy to come by, but the Fellowships and alliances managed by the BPO make this possible. 

What do you enjoy most about your role? 

I love communicating with so many people across the university and helping collaborations and alliances to run smoothly. If something needs to be organised, I will do it, even if it might at first seem a challenge. Research is fascinating, but the most exciting part of my job is the variety of relationships and initiatives that I am involved in and the satisfaction I get from helping people to achieve their aims. 

When should people seek the help of the Business Partnerships Office?  

  • If you are interested in talking to Industry – get in touch with us, we can point you towards potential contacts in our strategic alliances, invite you to networking events and put you on our radar for when future opportunities arise.
  • If you are starting to develop a collaboration with a company, speak to us so that we can help you navigate the process, from how to present a work plan, to how to cost a project – we can liaise with the company at crucial steps to help plans and contracts develop smoothly.
  • If you are looking for funding from industry, look on our funding opportunities page where we collate funding calls that are open, but not run through our team.
  • If you want to learn more about what is going on in industry, you can attend our seminars and networking events.