Universities are driving growth through innovation and enterprise

Following the Science and Technology Select Committee’s report on Technology Innovation Centres Libby Aston, Director at University Alliance, said

“Universities are driving growth through innovation and enterprise; they are not just part of a growth strategy, they are central to it. Technology Innovation Centres will be part of
a much bigger picture of joining university research and business innovation. Alliance universities have strong expertise in this approach. These are universities undertaking world-leading research, often in highly rated STEM departments, working closely with industry to generate near-market solutions, business start-ups and creating jobs.

“Alliance universities have found that the most successful approach is one where business links and engagement are embedded across a range of university activities. These universities have developed strong partnerships with both national and international business to the extent that there is active businesses engagement in curriculum design and research.”


Notes to editor:

Case studies of the Alliance approach to joining research with business innovation –

University of Hertfordshire—Bio-Park

BioPark is a thriving scientific community of biopharmaceutical, medical technology, diagnostics and the biomedical businesses together with specialist service providers, forming an important component of the South Hertfordshire BioCluster. BioPark ensures that strong links are developed between regional universities, research institutes and the private sector and, as one of a network of Regional Enterprise Hubs, assists in developing high-level skills to support the knowledge economy. Not only is BioPark demonstrative of the leading role the university is playing in terms of the regions  economic development, BioPark is run on a commercial basis for the university and therefore effectively brings private revenue in.

University of Plymouth—Leading Marine Institute

Research Fortnight’s RAE 2008 Power Table showed that the University of Plymouth was ranked at number 50, with the highest increase in ranking (15 places) from 2001 to 2008. The University’s largest Unit of Assessment for the 2008 RAE, with 36.5 staff submitted, was Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (UOA17), which includes the marine physical sciences and chemistry. In this unit 95% of the research was judged to be at least internationally recognised, with 50% being internationally excellent or world leading.

It is on the basis of this expertise that one of the largest Marine Institutes in Europe has been established. The University is working in partnership to invest £25 million in the Plymouth Science and Innovation Programme (PSIP) to build a new world-class marine facility which will house state-of-the-art research facilities including new wave tank testing equipment that will be unique to the UK. PSIP builds on expertise in the City and provides a solid innovation infrastructure which expects to create 500 jobs and 30 new businesses in the next five years. PSIP is expected to drive up the city’s Gross Value Added, an indicator of economic performance, by £130million over the next 10 years.

University of Bradford—Research and Knowledge Transfer Centres

The University of Bradford has made a strategic decision to invest more than £4 million in developing its key areas of research and knowledge transfer strength. Following an extensive review of its research base, external business markets and funding opportunities the university has developed its strategy to focus on 10 Research and Knowledge Transfer Centres including: Micro and Nano Technologies, Advanced Materials Engineering, Pharmaceutical Engineering, Sustainable Living, Skin Sciences, Visual Computing, Automotive Engineering and Medical Infection.

All centres are delivering high quality research, an academic drive and a commitment to business markets. The centres are all driving innovation and working towards business solutions—strengthening partnerships with business and industry such as Jaguar cars, Reckitt Benckiser, Smith and Nephew and public sector organisations such as NHS trusts and the Department of Health.

Bournemouth University—National Centre for Computer Animation

Bournemouth University’s National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) is working with the University of Bath to create the first Industrial Doctoral Centre for the Computer Animation industry. This pioneering project has been awarded nearly £6 million by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

With an annual turnover of approx £7 billion the computer animation industry is of increasing importance to the UK economy. The Centre aims to improve knowledge transfer between academia and industry and provide training in the technical, artistic, research and management skills needed by the next generation of industry leaders.

For the past two years, 3D World magazine has rated the NCCA as the best place to study computer animation in the UK. The publication also rated the Centre as number eight in the world. Other recent grant successes include £290,000 over three years from the EPSRC to improve the realism of animated virtual humans. These characters will be used by partners Lancaster, UCL and the Metropolitan Police to study psychological responses to street violence.

University of the West of England—Institute of Biosensing Technology

The Institute of Biosensing Technology is the first of its type using Bio-sensing technology in non- invasive detection of disease, healthcare (being able to detect metal fatigue in hip replacements before they hurt), security and many other applications. This attracts inward investment from overseas.

IBST was formalised in 2008 and has already secured major research contracts such as a £1 million project in collaboration with DePuy (a Johnson+Johnson company) and Gwent Electronic Materials, funded by the Technology Strategy Board. The project aims to develop a new rapid, point-of-care diagnostic system for the measurement of metal ions after joint replacement. This will inform clinical decision making around the need for pre-emptive revision in case of high levels of metal wear.

IBST has also become an affiliate member of the Sensors & Instrumentation Knowledge Transfer Network (SIKTN), a government funded initiative to develop a joined-up approach to the bio-sensing and instrumentation community. The Institute is already working with the SIKTN on a project to develop a National Directory of UK companies working in bio-sensing.

About the Alliance:

University Alliance represents 23 major, business-focussed universities at the heart of the sector delivering world-leading research with impact.

Alliance universities educate over 26% of all UK students and achieve some of the highest graduate-level employment rates. Alliance universities offer a researchinformed, academic learning environment and a culture of innovation and enterprise, equipping graduates who will help deliver growth to the UK economy. Our universities maintain a revolving door with business to help ensure graduate employers get innovative and thoughtful, professionally accredited graduates with the right skills to help grow their businesses.

Alliance universities:

Aberystwyth University, Bournemouth University, University of Bradford, De Montfort University, University of Glamorgan, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of Hertfordshire, University of Huddersfield, University of Lincoln, Liverpool John Moores University, Manchester Metropolitan University, Northumbria University, Nottingham Trent University, Open University, Oxford Brookes University, University of Plymouth, University of Portsmouth, University of Salford, Sheffield Hallam University, Teesside University, University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, University of Wales, Newport, University of the West of England.

For further information, please contact Sam Jones at the University Alliance office on 07767 673 982 or email sjones@www.unialliance.ac.uk

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