Three little words


Business Link advisor Alex Nicholas explains how knowledge transfer is helping Cornish companies bring home the Bacon

It was in 1597 that the great English writer and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon first said: “Knowledge is power”. Over 400 years later, these three words are still part of our everyday language, summarising brilliantly a thoroughly modern approach to good business practice.

All the evidence shows that those businesses whose people collectively share more or better knowledge than their competitors effectively out-perform them. And those regions that encourage and enable the development of businesses based on special, hard-to-replicate skills and expertise tend to succeed, both nationally and internationally.

According to Alex Nicholas, who runs the Business Link Convergence service for particularly innovative and ambitious businesses across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, one of the most effective new ways of ensuring that businesses have access to the knowledge they need is called ‘knowledge transfer’.

He says: “Basically, knowledge transfer is the process of exchanging ideas, skills, knowledge and experiences between all sorts of organisations, including businesses, universities and other institutions, the community and government.

“Its aim then is to help create excellent organisations providing innovative and successful products and services that people will pay a premium for, so supporting the creation of high-value jobs.”

He is currently responsible for delivering a county-wide knowledge transfer programme in partnership with Falmouth Marine School, BT, The Cornwall Marine Network and the Digital Peninsula Network.

“Our key first step has been to identify those knowledge gaps that are keeping Cornish businesses from fulfilling their potential,” he says. “Clearly this is a challenging process, because in most cases people simply don’t know what they don’t know.”

Nicholas and his colleagues have developed an initial programme of knowledge transfer events for those ambitious Cornish businesses that qualify for Convergence support. They focus on advanced composite manufacturing in the marine industry, next generation broadband and environmental business expansion.

As he says: “The events, which are to be held in partnership with The National Physical Laboratory, will give attending businesses easy access to strategic and tactical information from some of the UK’s most respected knowledge-based organisations.”

Building business from next-generation broadband

(February 1, Pool Innovation Centre)

The roll-out of superfast broadband has started in Cornwall, giving businesses the opportunity to gain competitive advantage in markets right across the world. Representatives from organisations including BT will explain precisely what the new technology can do and how it compares with broadband nationally and across the world.

Introduction to advanced composite manufacturing

(February 15, National Maritime Museum)

With a burgeoning range of new techniques emerging for composite product manufacturers, it is important for them to understand which are right for which products and production methods.

Environmental business expansion

(February 16, Pool Innovation Centre)

Virtually every business needs to modernise or expand its premises at some stage. This event will help enable both an environmental and financial reward, through exploring practical methods for modernising a building’s fabric, evaluating new technologies for improving energy and resource efficiency.

You can register your interest in attending at

This article first appeared in the Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue of Business Cornwall