Partnerships and Programmes

The Partnerships and Programmes (P&P) team leads on strategic initiatives (Programmes) and relationship development (Partnerships) that deliver to, primarily but not exclusively, the University’s research and enterprise aspirations. These aspirations will naturally look beyond current strategies and plans and towards a future successful University of Bristol.

Team roles are all highly outward-facing (industry, government, community), recognising that the University neither has all the resources nor all the answers to achieve all that it might wish to, and partnering is becoming increasingly important; in parallel, a deep understanding of the workings of the university itself is needed in order to make the right things happen and ensure we are entirely fit for the future we desire. Team members necessarily have a broad mix of commercial, university, government and not-for-profit experience, enabling them to work effectively across all sectors, regional, national and international.

Team members aim to approach all activities (whether programmes or partnerships) in a wholly inclusive, holistic ‘systems-thinking’ way. They will seek to coordinate and team-work across the entire university including across all Faculties and Professional Services divisions and all associated networks. In addition to working closely with senior management within the University and externally, the team will work closely with discipline experts as needed both internally and externally. Although based in RED, the team’s remit extends well beyond research and enterprise – reflecting programme needs and the interests of our partners.


The Partnerships team focuses on identifying, developing and managing relationships with the potential to contribute most to the university’s strategic (research and enterprise) ambitions, but are also tasked with establishing and overseeing university-wide processes that support the development and growth of partnerships generally. We are seeking to get the University generally recognised as a de facto brilliant partner and a leading institution by number and value of partnerships. The Partnerships Programme is led academically by Ben Hicks, the Director of Strategic Partnerships.

The Partnerships team works both independently and through the University Partnerships Committee (UPC – previously known as the Strategic Alliances Review Board (SARB)), which has representation from all Faculties and key Professional Services divisions, seeking to work collaboratively and to provide a co-ordinated and integrated service for our partnerships and strategic relationships. This includes close working with Faculty offices (eg ILO and PLN), Business Fellows, URIs and others; likewise, with Careers Services, Development and Alumni Relations Office, BDC, etc.


Programme Managers lead on strategic activities, as mandated by the VC or PVC-RE. For each activity, the role generally involves developing a vision of how the university stands to benefit and henceforth progressing the activity in such a way as to maximise and realise those benefits. Teamwork with the academic community is crucial, as is relationship building with external partners and (very often) overcoming obstacles, solving problems, leading change, and creating opportunities. The Programme Manager will usually co-own a programme vision with an identified senior academic lead and will draw on resource and capability across the university in order to best progress activities.

Programmes are naturally highly ambitious. They are always multi-faceted and often challenge existing university culture(s), processes and procedures. Programme Managers are required continually to handle ambiguity, uncertainness and conflicting interests in pursuit of a programme vision.

Common to many programmes are: seeking to influence policy-makers to create new opportunities; positioning the university to benefit from these; developing networks and relationships; and ensuring engagement regionally, nationally and internationally. Within the university, Programme Managers will invariably encourage the breaking down of boundaries, multi-disciplinary activity, more ambitious and lateral thinking, and a university-wide viewpoint. Teamwork across both academic and professional services colleagues is essential.