Here are some answers to recently received questions. If your question is not covered below please contact ConsultUCD directly and we will be happy to help.

Q: What is academic consultancy?

A: Academic consultancy is where a member of UCD’s academic or professional staff works as an expert adviser or consultant to an external organisation, in return for a commercial fee. The consultant(s) typically use their existing knowledge and expertise to answer the client’s questions or provide opinions and advice, rather than to create new knowledge.

Q: Can you give examples of consultancy work?

A: Consultancy can take on many forms and if you have a query please contact us for advice.

Here are some common examples of consultancy work:

  • Devising technical and innovative solutions to business projects
  • Assisting with strategic planning and follow on initiatives
  • Reviewing strategy and policy reports
  • Writing expert reports on a range of issues
  • Developing and providing bespoke training
  • Providing a service
  • Presenting at seminars and business conferences
  • Serving on advisory boards, panels or committees
  • Giving expert witness advice or testimony
  • Using specialist research facilities or laboratories

Q: Why is UCD launching this managed consultancy service?

A: The practice of academic consultancy is currently under-developed in Ireland, compared to some other countries. However, the Irish Government has recognised its potential importance and benefits. In 2016, Enterprise Ireland launched an initiative to encourage higher education institutions to actively promote and support their academics in delivering consultancy to external clients, backed by public funding. UCD successfully bid for some of this funding, and is a pioneer in this field in Ireland. Consulting supports UCD’s strategy by increasing the impact of our research and innovation locally and internationally.

Q: How does consultancy benefit client companies and organisations?

A: Consultancy assignments provide an easy, low-risk route for a company or other organisation to engage with UCD, perhaps for the first time. It can help them to find answers to complex or technical questions that they might find it costly and difficult to address in other ways. Consultancy gives clients concentrated access to UCD’s world-class expertise, typically in shorter timescales than a research project.

Q: Is consultancy just for science and engineering projects?

A: No. Consultancy projects can arise from any academic discipline. Recent examples from other universities include assignments delivered by academics in disciplines as diverse as Theology, History, Midwifery, Psychology and many more. Of course there is also great potential for consultancy work in engineering, materials, communications, biotechnology, medicine, agri-food and many other areas.

Q: How does consultancy differ from contract research, funded by a company?

A: There are a number of differences and in some cases consultancy can be a precursor to research activity. Differences:

  • Consultancy assignments are typically priced in a different way from research projects and are generally based on agreed day rates
  • The client will have a significant degree of control when it comes to defining the scope of the work and the timescales for carrying it out (which are often fairly short)
  • Ownership of the intellectual property (IP) rights generated in the course of providing consulting advice is likely to remain with the client
  • The results of the work may be confidential or commercially sensitive and there could be limited or no scope for academic publication 

Q: Is the consulting service available for small projects?

A: Yes. ConsultUCD will provide their services regardless of the value of the project. Experience to date in the UK shows that approximately 70% of consulting engagements are valued at less than £5,000.

Q: How is consultancy work priced?

A: Consultancy work must always to be priced commercially: it is vital to avoid the potential for UCD to be accused of anti-competitive practices and/or inappropriate use of public subsidy. The new managed consultancy service will be able to advise on appropriate market rates for consultancy work.

Q: How can ConsultUCD help and support me with consultancy work? What will they actually do for me?

A: The range of activities undertaken by the managed consultancy service includes:

  • Helping you find a consultant
  • Advising on and negotiating day rates and fees
  • Drafting contracts
  • Providing professional indemnity insurance
  • Supporting the practical/logistical aspects of delivering assignments
  • Handling invoicing, expenses, etc.

Q: I have other questions about ConsultUCD. What should I do?

A: If you have any additional questions please let us know.

Elizabeth Nolan, Head of Consultancy Services

t: + 353 (1) 716 3714
e: elizabeth.nolan@ucd.ie