Extenda extends University research to local companies

Programme to boost research skills in software companies and to connect students to the commercial world

The University of Auckland’s Centre for Software Innovation (CSI) and the University’s Business School are launching a programme to boost research skills and product development in software companies, but also to connect students to the commercial world.

“We do a lot of consultancy with smaller ICT companies, and we see them not being able to leverage an understanding of research particularly well,” says John Hosking, professor at University of Auckland’s Computer Science department.

Local software companies often lack staff with sufficient research skills and experience to understand how research can improve product development, he says.

The programme, called Extenda, aims to expose software developer companies to a different, more research-focused way of thinking about product development, says Hosking. It aims to help companies to lead through focusing on research and product innovation, instead of being reactive and lead by the first technology they came across, he says.

The programme, due to start in August, involves four monthly expert-led workshops for senior managers of the participating companies and for students. These workshops will give hands-on advice on developing technology roadmaps, research plans, technology assessment capability and funding opportunities, says Hosking. Student teams, consisting of postgraduate students from the Computer Science department and the Business School, will then work as a resource within the companies to take the tools and techniques presented in the workshops and apply them within the context of the companies, says Hosking.

Around ten companies will participate in the pilot of Extenda, but the programme will be looking to expand the number of companies next year, says Hosking. Xsol chief executive John Blackham is one of the experts that will lead the workshops.

Xsol has had a strong relationship with the University of Auckland for eight years now, and has had research contracts with the university for the last six years, says Blackham. He says that Extenda will help make graduates much more valuable to employers.

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