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The International Communication and Trade course has provided me with the tools to take social norms into account in preparing for international business meetings. I expect this to increase the effectiveness of these engagements.” - Clara, Dashboard

I enjoyed the course and it increased my awareness of cultural differences. I would now approach new international business relationships with greater understanding.” - Chris, Tarquin’s Gin

It was very good to be part of International Communication and Trade course. It certainly sparked some interesting conversations between the delegates. I thought the content of the course was good and introduced some great theory.” - Ben Leonard, Department of International Trade

For the first time in the UK, this pilot scheme has brought together a strong and diverse representation from industry, to deliver the specific design skills that are much needed for the years ahead." - Paul Leedham, Managing Director Matrix Energy Systems

Innovation in Higher Level Skills

Innovation in Higher Level Skills

Innovation in Higher Level Skills

Innovation in Higher Level Skills

The Innovation in Higher Level Skills programme, funded through the European Social Fund, ran from Sept 2018 – April 2021.

The programme brought together five educational institutions (Truro & Penwith College, the University of Exeter, Falmouth University, Plymouth University and Cornwall College) to engage with businesses and identify training gaps and course development opportunities in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The University of Exeter engaged with 197 individuals from 107 businesses across a variety of sectors to identify business training needs and to develop courses in response to these.

Through the programme we have focussed on the following:

  • Developing a new Degree Apprenticeship MSc in Renewable Energy Systems, to meet the need for those working in this industry to further develop their skills and qualifications. Work on this course is ongoing; for more information, please contact Henry Marsh.

  • Developing a new business CPD (continuous professional development) course in Heat Pump Systems Design. We piloted content with 75 attendees and we look forward to offering this new course for those involved in the design of heat pump systems. For more information, please contact Dr Richard Cochrane.

  • Developing a new business CPD course in International Communication and Trade. 12 businesses joined us online for four two-hour sessions covering cultural difference, common pitfalls in communication and how to harness cultural competence to increase B2B and B2C sales. For more information, please contact Danielle Farrow.

We also ran 9 fully funded student internships through the programme, which saw students working on a wide range of projects across diverse sectors. Students used their skills and knowledge to complete a project for the business. Topics included citizen science, design and development, marketing and research and copywriting. Feedback from both businesses and students showed these opportunities to be mutually beneficial, offering businesses access to specialist and higher-level skills and providing students with workplace experience.

The project has showcased the many benefits of embedding business experience within University activity and demonstrated the impact engagement with the University can have on business growth.

The project is receiving up to £1.97 million of funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information, visit

Previous Events & Courses:

Engagement with local businesses within the energy sector identified the absence of a clear training route for heat pump systems designers.

As the UK works to meet its climate commitments the need to focus on renewable, clean, energy options has increased dramatically. To be effective heat pump systems need to be designed competently, taking into account the individual characteristics of each building.

Experts at the University of Exeter, Penryn campus, are collaborating with relevant businesses and key stakeholders to develop a training course for Heat Pump Systems Designers which could offer an accredited route into the industry.

Course content is now ready to pilot and we are looking for businesses to join us on our pilot course, which will run on the following dates:

Wednesday, January 27th, 3 – 5pm 
Session 1: Introduction to heat pump systems

This session will cover the fundamental principles of how heat pumps work, including the underlying thermodynamic concepts, factors affecting performance and optimisation. We will look at both ground and air source systems, provide guidance for selecting the most appropriate technology type and touch upon system efficiencies and sizing.

Wednesday, February 10th, 3-5 pm
Session 2: Heat Pump Variations and Performance Optimisation

This session will look in more detail at different types of heat pump systems and their components. We will touch on seasonal performance factors and how these may impact on the most appropriate solution for a property.

Wednesday, February 24th, 3 – 5pm
Session 3: System Design, Part 1

This session will introduce simple heat loss calculations and the various tools available to assist with these, including room based calculations and air change rates within highly insulated properties. We will cover various distribution systems and the calculations used to specify the most appropriate size system for an individual property. We take into account the effect of insulation and different distribution systems on performance.

Wednesday, March 10th, 3 – 5pm
Session 4: System Design, Part 2

This session will cover ground array design, including: borehole sizing, options for piping, open vs closed loop systems and heat exchanger specification. We will introduce hydraulic calculations and pressure loss within the system, including pipe sizing and turbulence limits.

Please link to the following pdf to find out more about the proposed course content‌ and learner aims. Click here to book your place

For more information, please contact Project Support Officer, Danielle Farrow

In May this year we worked hard to pilot our International Communication and Trade course online rather than live, as originally planned.

The format was so successful, we will be running it again next year, across 4, 2-hour sessions, between February and March. We are very excited to be collaborating this time Ben Leonard, a representative of the Department of International Trade, who will be supporting the course with case studies and real-life examples drawn from Cornwall and the South West.

The course is aimed at any business who is interacting regularly with those from different cultural backgrounds, whether internally or externally. Subtitling will be provided for those who find this helpful.

Course Content:

Session 1: Intercultural Competence

Learn about intercultural competence and how it is essential for effective communication in any intercultural scenario. Increase your understanding of your own behaviours and expectations as well as those of others and learn about the source of potential miscommunication and the breakdown of working relationships.

Session 2: Language as a Barrier

Discuss the hidden problems of using English as a lingua franca and learn further practical tools which can be used to increase your understanding of your own cultural expectations and how these can interact with those of others. Apply this understanding to the business context.

Session 3: Culture and Value

Consider value and decision making units and understand some of the ways in which culture affects value in business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) markets. Learn techniques for managing different types of relationship and tips on how to prepare for transactional and strategic relationships.

Session 4: Customer journeys in Global Markets

Understand the early, middle and late customer stages and the impact culture can have on these. Learn about different ways of working with customers and how to use question and answer techniques to greatest effect.

Each session features input from University experts in language, culture and business, followed by group activities aimed at consolidating learning and applying it to your own workplace or setting. Course materials will be made available for you to return to and the course offers an excellent opportunity for you to network with other like-minded individuals with an interest in this area.

As this is a further pilot, supported by the Innovation in Higher Level Skills Project, there is no charge to attend this course. You will be asked to support the further development of the course by providing feedback at various points.

To register your interest in joining the course, please email IHLS Project Support Officer, Danielle Farrow:

We are excited to announce a new event aimed at all businesses who are interested in switching to a renewable energy heating solution, but who are unsure what the options are.

Continued reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable and expected rising prices could leave your business at risk. Switching to a renewable source can help to stabilise energy costs, lower your carbon footprint and enhance your public image.

The event will provide an overview of the various renewable energy technologies available, provide an introduction to the current funding picture and aims to provide you with the tools to assess the option best suited to your own business.

If you remain uncertain following the event, you will be able to book a free 15 minute consultation with a fourth-year renewable energy student, who will review the information provided and produce a report which sets out the most suitable options and key points to consider.

For further details and to book, please visit:

Applications for funded internships have now closed and opportunities will shortly be advertised to students.

Innovation in Higher Level Skills partners, Falmouth University and the University of Plymouth, still have places available on their student placement schemes. Please contact them directly for further information.

Falmouth University: Steve Cox,

University of Plymouth: Jo Byrne,

3 December 2019, 9-11am - Blue Bar, Porthtowan

Individuals had the opputunity to meet with experts in the renewable energy sector to discuss business challenges and design training to meet these needs. The workshop saw input from Cornwall Council and several businesses working directly in the renewable energy sector. Discussion centred on current training needs and skills gaps in the renewable energy market. Broadly, the group agreed that:

  • There is a need for training courses to be made available online
  • There is scope for the development for a degree apprenticeship in renewable energy
  • Potential topics for training included; PV solar energy, heating systems and systems integration

We are now researching the options for providing training, both in the short and long term, to meet the needs identified. If you were unable to attend the workshop, but would like to get involved in the discussion, please contact Danielle Farrow:

3 December, 12-3pm - Blue Bar, Porthtowan

We had representation from businesses trading goods and services and others whose business involves regular communication with representatives across the globe. The workshop was run by Dr Bill Russell from the University of Exeter Business School and Dr Sonia Cunico from the Department of Modern Languages. Dr Russell and Dr Cunico will be running a two day course in May and discussion focussed on the development of course content. 

If you were unable to attend the workshop, but would like to get involved in the discussion, please contact Danielle Farrow: Details of the course and how to apply will be provided shortly.



Case Studies:

Course Development Case Study: Matrix Energy Systems Ltd

The University of Exeter is a delivery partner in the ESF Innovation in Higher Level Skills project. The project works with SMEs and micro-businesses to identify skills gaps and training needs within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Through engagement with local businesses, the University identified that there was a need for developing a course in Heat Pump System Design.

As a result, a new business CPD (Continuous Professional Development) course in Heat Pump Systems Design was developed. The course was originally intended to run live but switched to an online pilot as a result of the Covid19 restrictions. The course ran across four two-hour sessions with a group of 60 engaged businesses and covered topics such as an introduction to heat pump design, heat pump variations, design process and design challenges.

Matrix Energy Systems have been designing and installing heat pump systems and low/zero carbon systems across the UK and British Isles since 2009. They believe in sourcing the most efficient products, designing, and constructing systems, using in-house teams to offer their customers optimum comfort for their lifestyle. They specialise in delivering solutions using the latest innovations in the industry to give customers the satisfaction of knowing they have chosen the best option.

Matrix Energy Systems have always had an involvement in training and learning since inception, from apprentice level training through to postgraduate. However, the development of the pilot course by Exeter University for heat pump design, is the first attempt in the UK to deliver this much needed solution. Paul Leedham (Managing Director) participated in this venture as he sees it as the first steps towards delivering a meaningful qualification that has ‘buy in’ from across all parts of the industry. He will continue to support the work pioneered by Exeter University to deliver a successful qualification that will be useful to the heating industry in the years to come.

Course Development Case Study: Dashboard

The University of Exeter is a delivery partner in the ESF Innovation in Higher Level Skills project. The project works with SMEs and micro-businesses to identify skills gaps and training needs within Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Through engagement with local businesses, the University identified that there was a need for training specific to international trade and cross-cultural communication.

As a result, a training programme was developed which featured a collaboration between the University of Exeter School of Modern Languages and the Business School. The course was originally intended to run live in May but switched at short notice to an online pilot as a result of the Covid19 restrictions. The course ran across four two-hour sessions with a small group of engaged businesses and covered topics such as the impact of language and culture on internal and external business meetings, career progression and international sales.

Dashboard Ltd is a Cornish-based business which capitalises on the internet of things to pioneer continuous real-time monitoring for industrial processes and infrastructure. With a client base that stretches around the globe, they were interested in finding out more about how their business could increase their knowledge and expertise in relation to cross-cultural communication to improve business relationships and maximise international sales.

Clara Pike from Dashboard attended the pilot course and she said that as a result of what she had learned, she was making a conscious effort to tailor presentations to different international businesses. Clara said she felt like the course had provided her with the tools to take social norms into account in preparing for international business meetings and she expected this to increase the effectiveness of these engagements.

The University of Exeter ran a second pilot of this course in February – March 2021.

Internship Case Study: RJ Working

The University of Exeter is a partner in an ESF funded project called Innovation in Higher Level Skills. Through this programme we received funding for 10 work placements for students to carry out a defined project with a small business in Cornwall or the Isles of Scilly.

RJ Working successfully applied to the scheme and advertised for a University student to join them over the summer as an Evaluation and Development intern. RJ Working promotes Restorative Practice to engage young people and children in better looking after themselves and each other, through innovative group training in Cornwall’s Schools and Colleges.

The role of the intern was varied and involved a number of tasks, including research and development, work with different types of data, video footage and promotional materials. Part of the intern’s role involved the further development of a database of information which enabled the Schools Programme Lead, Louise Everett-Lindsay, to tailor the packages on offer to schools, increasing their relevance and making them truly bespoke. Whilst the intern was in post, Louise made three pitches to new schools using the research completed by the intern, and each was successful for the first time. Louise commented that the internship has led to RJ Working’s increased presence in the field, increased interactions with their target audience, better celebration of organisational successes, and increased impact on new business.

RJ Working said they were “absolutely delighted” to work with the student and they felt that the programme had been mutually beneficial to both the business and the student. The intern commented on how supportive and positive the working environment was and said she felt she had been given the opportunity to apply her skills and elevate them to a new level.


To register or find out more about any of the above courses and for further information please contact:

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