A Sheffield Hallam University student consultancy programme which benefits the regional economy by more than £4m per year has been recognised for teaching excellence in higher education.

The Venture Matrix programme embeds applied learning to students’ courses through consultancy services with regional businesses, charities and not for profit organisations. It grew from a pilot in a single course to a university-wide initiative which has involved more than 15,000 students to date.

The team behind the programme received Advance HE’s Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE), which recognises and rewards collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning. Introduced in 2016, the scheme highlights the key role of teamwork in higher education.

Venture Matrix brings students together with private, public and third sector organisations, giving them the opportunity to tackle genuine business challenges and gain practical work experience relevant to their discipline.

Projects include Sheffield sweet manufacturer Maxons who received digital marketing advice to help the company to increase awareness online and local charity, the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind (SRSB), who have worked with Venture Matrix on several projects ranging from video production, market research and interior design.

Charmaine Myers, Academic Lead for Venture Matrix, said: “As a team, we are so thrilled to have received this significant national award for our work.  I am so proud of what we have achieved in embedding real-world live project opportunities across the courses at Sheffield Hallam for over a decade.  These projects enable our students to support and add value to our local business and community organisations while also gaining authentic work experience.”

Alison Johns, Advance HE CEO, said: “I am sure I am joined by the entire sector in congratulating the 2020 NTFS and CATE awardees. All of the winners should be extremely proud of their achievement of what are prestigious, national teaching awards. Their work epitomises the outstanding commitment to teaching in the UK higher education sector, which this year has been more demanding than ever before. Well done to each and every one of them.”

Due to Covid-19, the 2020 winners award ceremony has been postponed. All the 2020 winners will be recognised at a joint awards ceremony in autumn 2021 for winners from this year and next. There will also be an online celebration in September.