The United Kingdom's Digital Curation Centre (DCC), established in 2004, is the country's digital preservation and data management authority. From 2011 to mid-2013 the DCC's Institutional Engagement program provided support for digital preservation and data management to 20 universities. The initiative was stimulated by the realization that research data leads to broader advances when shared, as well as by pressure from funders to implement formal data management practices. Experience with the first cohort of universities revealed differences in readiness for data management, the importance of a local champion and support staff and the need for dedicated funding. Unfamiliar but necessary working relationships emerged, as did the need to align institution requirements with funder priorities. Common challenges were planning for effective data management, data storage and training for researchers and staff. The DCC will apply the lessons learned with the first cohort to other higher educational institutions, adjusting its approach to serve each university's specific needs while promoting the shared purpose.