A recently released article in The Institution of Engineering and Technology Partner News Magazine
The University of York’s Department of Electronic Engineering has a strong record of supporting and facilitating several spin-out companies as a result of its interdisciplinary and high-impact, research driven strategies.
One successful example is SkillsForge. In Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) the upskilling of students and staff is a core activity achieved mainly through teaching and learning activities, learning throughout the research journey and general training courses. This process is often underpinned by a skills audit, diagnostic skills testing, personal development planning and periodic review processes. SkillsForge offers a software solution to achieve all of the above, together with attendance monitoring, unlockable digital signatures, data integrity and
protection, and the ability to monitor and report at any level of the institution.
Launched in 2005 as a research project led by Professor Tony Ward, Head of the Department of Electronic
Engineering’s Engineering Management Group, the solution was developed by Jonathan Carr. SkillsForge is now a successful spin-out company with Jonathan holding the position of Chief Technology Officer, and the
system now has a long client list of universities across the UK. SkillsForge also supports multilingual features and thisis evident in its use by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS 2) project led by Bangor University, which involves all the Welsh universities. The installation in this case gives users the option
of selecting English and Welsh.
As an innovative tool designed for managing research progression and development in higher education, SkillsForge
now offers a platform to record and monitor various aspects of PhD research. This includes skills gap identification and reflection, short training course bookings, action plan tracking, draft chapters
and working research paper sharing, development summary transcripts and supervision monitoring throughout the PhD
timeline. All these features fully integrate with the client’s institutional systems and
student record systems.
Across its clients, there are over 160,000 active users of SkillsForge, over 60,000 supervision records and a course is booked on average every 10 seconds. The comprehensive system was recently recognised at the 2017 Educate North & UK Leadership Awards and Conference, where it won the University Entrepreneur’s Challenge Award 2017 and
Innovation Award 2017. SkillsForge retains close ties with its departmental clients, sponsoring undergraduate
final year student projects and promoting advanced university courses to its staff as part of their Continuing