GAIN Digital Exchange shortlisted for prestigious national award

An online network that brings together businesses, academics, experts and suppliers, to exchange knowledge and offer expert advice in the South West has been nominated for a prestigious national award.

The GAIN (Growth Acceleration and Investment Network) Digital Exchange has been shortlisted by Times Higher Education for Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year in its annual Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs).

Launched in June 2014, the GAIN Digital Exchange has proven to be hugely popular with the business community with more than 35,000 users registering from around the world. 

Members have contributed nearly 2,000 articles, reports and blogs, and there have been around 1,000 interactions on ‘knowledge exchange’ – effectively providing thousands of pounds worth of free consultation to the SME community of the region.

Adrian Dawson, Head of GAIN Projects and Partnerships, said: 

“This nomination is terrific recognition of the innovative and dynamic nature of the GAIN Digital Exchange. It is all about providing instant business support solutions from all sources, quickly, accurately and with a low cost. In a regional economy characterised by geographically dispersed SMEs, that’s a vital commodity, and we’re now receiving lots of enquiries from other areas of the country looking to replicate what we’ve done.”

One of the most innovative aspects of the exchange is the way it supports peer-to-peer networks by asking each member ‘what are they brilliant at?’ when they register. When questions crop up in areas such as human resources, marketing and branding, finance or legal affairs, experts in that field are alerted and have the opportunity to respond and share their experience and insight. Metrics show that a question usually prompts someone to begin responding within four seconds.

Businesses are also asked if they can provide experiential or employment opportunities for students – and many students have been able to undertake research, gain internships and placements, and even secure graduate jobs through the network. The GAIN Digital Exchange also provides access to two grant support engines, peer-to-peer lending models, and more than 230 business suppliers.

Richard Adams, Corporate Projects Manager, said: 

“When we launched the GAIN Digital Exchange we set ourselves a target of 10,000 users, but the figures have far surpassed that. And for the University, it has provided a fantastic portal into the local economy, so that our students can reach out to interact with some of the most exciting businesses in the region.”

The awards dinner and ceremony will take place on Thursday 23 June at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane. Plymouth University, which last won a THELMA in 2010 for the Sell2Plymouth initiative, will be competing against Cardiff, Essex, Hull, Nottingham, and the SETsquared Partnership.