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UniverCity Match-Making Portal

Lab Contact: Alan Richards
Team: Sylvester Arnab, Isabel Galvis


Lead Partner

Sinead Ouillon
Programme Leader the City University Initiative


In the context of austerity measures, resulting in reduction of funding by as much as 50% in the City council, focus has moved to the civic role of Universities. It is therefore timely to pilot a new coordinated form of University community engagement that delivers collective positive impact for staff, students and the City.

The University already has extensive community reach with up to 50% of students volunteering locally and staff and students undertaking thousands of collaborations and placements in local NGO’s and enterprises. However, much of this work is spread across a number of departments and is organised on a project-by-project basis, limiting the opportunity to collect data on these interactions and to build a more dynamic ecosystem of staff, students, business and community in Coventry.

The UniverCity Match Maker will directly address this gap whilst also supporting staff and students to;

  • Disrupt the way we fund projects and research by opening them up to the community
  • Make the most of the UniverCity networks
  • Support an alternative to the big banks for business development
  • Gain real-world experience and increase participation in the local community
  • Gain skills in crowd funding and support for project ideas
  • Better celebrate and promote the contribution the University makes in the City
  • Support students and staff to gain experience from working in the community and industry (supporting thesis and dissertation, volunteering, internship, etc.)



iMobisoft, will develop the web based platform as a pilot to inform the mobile implementation

Voluntary Action Coventry, (VAC) is a local infrastructure organisation that supports the voluntary and community sector in the city. The Univer♡City Match Maker will work alongside and support the VAC brand Coventry 4 Good. Coventry 4 Good has been developed as a recognisable brand to promote the work of local voluntary and community groups and to encourage local people and businesses to help them (Coventry University already support this venture with donated equipment).

Coventry City Council, will promote the portal through the Community development teams and there may be an opportunity to include the platform on the new way finding totems in the city.



The aim is to design, develop and deploy new means of connecting the students and community, staff and community, University and city. The Univer♡City match maker would, collect and store data on student staff community projects and research, would act as a route into the university and will help to better connect our students with the local area and provide the evidence base for the role of HEIs in challenging contexts such as these by seeking answers to contemporary questions about the role of the UK’s HEIs in responding to the cultural deficit brought about by the declining role of Local Authorities in cultural and artistic planning and funding – specifically, are HEIs fulfilling or beginning to occupy the role traditionally undertaken by Local Authorities.


Technology Application

The project will explore the “UBER-isation” model for personalised engagement with opportunities for students and staff across the university, and the involvement of local community and businesses. Phase 1 of the trial will include a web portal with geo location capability to help identify relevant and contextualised opportunities. Please see iMobisoft spec proposal attached.


Milestones & Timeline

  • Planning, focus group, designing programme and soft launch (current – March 2016)
    •  Student staff Focus group
    • Platform design
    • Set up open online platform
    • Upload existing Community University Projects from City University Initiative, as examples
    • Upload Fab Lab Coventry volunteer offers
    • Roadshows to encourage the uploading of profiles (COVUNI initially)
    • Soft Launch (March in the Fab Lab Coventry)
  • Platform going live (pilot) (April – June 2016)
    • Community promotion events in local neighbourhoods supported by Coventry City Council and Voluntary Action Coventry (2 weeks in April 2016)
    • Citizens and organisations uploading their profiles
    • Trial match making projects
  • Showcase – including Exhibition of match making projects (December 2016)


Project Timeline:

Start date:

Jan 2016

End date:

December 2016


Design & Development


Associated Faculties, Schools and/or Course(s):

  • Faculty of Arts and Humanities
  • Faculty of Engineering, Environment and Computing
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
  • Faculty of Business and Law
  • Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations


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