University of Kent part of new county alliance to promote IT innovation

The University of Kent is one of three universities to join forces with Kent Connects – a public sector technology partnership which links all of Kent’s councils with the emergency services and NHS – to help promote IT innovation and knowledge transfer across the county.

Launched at the University’s Canterbury campus on Wednesday 10 July, the Kent IT Alliance (KITA) will support collaboration and provide opportunities for knowledge transfer, joint funding, research and development, and the exchange of innovative practices through the use of technology.

KITA will also offer students from the universities of Kent, Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church the opportunity to undertake IT placements and student projects for Kent Connects’ organisations.

Students will have an opportunity to work on projects such as developing apps for mobile devices, cybercrime, and information governance. Placements will be available for up to one year and will also include work on data sharing initiatives, co-creation of prototypes, authentication and security.

Both Kent Connects and the universities believe students will benefit greatly from the work-based experience and Kent Connects partners will gain from the students’ expertise.

Carole Barron, Director of Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Kent said: ‘The University is committed to working in partnership to enhance all areas of its activities. The Kent IT Alliance will support collaboration and promote cutting-edge development based on up-to-date research-based expertise. It will also provide an excellent opportunity to enrich our students’ employability skills whilst working on a range of projects for the Kent Connects partners. We are delighted to be able to support our students and the wider Kent community in this way.’

Simon Thompson, Director of Research and Enterprise in the University of Kent’s School of Computing, said: ‘We are delighted to have this opportunity to work more closely with partners in the public sector across Kent. Computer Science is a practical subject, and our students can only gain a fully-rounded education by seeing how what we have taught them is applied in practice. Placement opportunities like this – which are enjoyed by a hundred of our students each year – provide this invaluable experience. We’re also glad to be able to share our insights and research with Kent Connects, hopefully to improve services for the wider community.’

Carol Patrick, Head of ICT Partnerships for Kent Connects said: ‘Technology changes so quickly we want to make sure we keep abreast of latest thinking and skills. Young people will bring vibrancy to the work we do and will help us to develop solutions while gaining valuable experience in the workplace. This is a win/ win partnership.’

Kent Connects is a partnership of all of the county’s councils as well as Kent Police and Kent Fire and Rescue, and Kent and Medway Commissioning Support Unit (KMCS) which works with Kent and Medway’s NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The partnership enables the members to work collaboratively and innovatively to provide value for money IT solutions for the benefit of its customers.

William Benson, Chief Executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Chair of Kent Connects’ Public Services ICT Board, said: ‘We’re keen to help students gain the practical skills they will need when they enter the job market.

‘They can roll their sleeves up and get involved in a variety of projects that will contribute to their coursework while partners can deploy students in areas that need both time and research.

‘To offer this to computing students across three Kent-based universities provides a fantastic opportunity not only for the students but also for Kent Connects partners.

‘We believe this collaboration with universities will also inject a new way of thinking into the work of the partners of Kent Connects and will support skill development as a two way street. We will be supporting the students, but we very much consider that they will be supporting us in a very valuable way.’