Wilson Review – our response

Welcoming the Wilson Review, Libby Hackett, Director of University Alliance, said:

“As a group whose primary focus is on business-university collaboration, we strongly welcome Sir Tim’s review. At a time when so much is changing, for students, institutions and on a larger scale, the way we work and do business, it is so important that we are ambitious as a sector to make the most of the positive outcomes that stem from successful collaboration between universities and business. Strong research, job-ready and entrepreneurial graduates, better businesses and communities, and economic growth.

“University Alliance institutions have a rich heritage in this approach; many formed in the 19th Century to respond to the need of changing and growing industrial economies. They are still continuing to pioneer new forms of collaboration driving knowledge exchange as well as local and national economic growth. The Review highlights the Siemens-University of Lincoln partnership, which is an example of this approach. Siemens have co-located with Lincoln’s engineering department; their staff engage in teaching, students work on real life projects and graduate fit for work.

“Knowledge transfer partnerships play a significant role in this, and we hope Government responds positively to the recommendation to maintain investment in this well-established and successful model. Joining together our university research with business innovation is key to generating growth and jobs, as well as strengthening the UK’s global competitive advantage. Along with this tried and tested approach we also welcome the recommendation to extend the innovation voucher scheme to other parts of the country.

“We particularly welcome the introduction of incentives for increasing sandwich degrees. Alliance universities are leaders in provision of sandwich courses and we can see the benefits they have on the future employability of students as well as their benefits for business. The incentives being proposed will enable universities to expand this form of provision and make it more attractive for both students and employers.

“We fully support the recommendation that Hefce should revisit to the definition of what constitutes a graduate job. Graduates who go on to start their own business are playing a significant role in driving new growth, and this should be recognised.

“The Review provides alot of food for thought and our universities are ready to meet the challenge that Wilson presents us and will make his vision a reality. We will outline in due course how we will play our part in taking this forward.”


Notes to Eds

Media Contact – Sam Jones 07767 673 982

Alliance university case studies in the Review:

1. Plymouth University has an explicit enterprise mission, driving innovation, economic growth and social inclusion across its region. Reflecting its local economy, the university’s investment in marine and maritime research engages over 400 academic staff and researchers and includes a new £19 million Marine building, complementing other maritime renewable energy facilities. The university, in partnership with the Western Morning News, secured the only university-led round one Regional Growth Fund bid, providing grants to SMEs to stimulate business expansion and create new jobs. Plymouth’s Growth Acceleration and Investment Network (GAIN) facilitates access to university assets, including a regional network of innovation and business incubation centres:a business ecosystem connecting people, ideas and money, catalysing action and creating critical mass in a dispersed regional economy.
2. University of Huddersfield – Founded in 2004, the University of Huddersfield’s Business Mine supports students and graduates starting up their own business through a series of events: one-to-one business advice, hot-desk office space, and access to micro-finance. An Enterprise Placement Year helps students start up their own business during their placement year. The Business Mine is supported by the Huddersfield-led ERDF-funded Graduate Entrepreneurship Project—a collaboration of start-up units across the ten universities of Yorkshire and the Humber, providing funds for micro-finance, delivering regional events and sharing best practice. Enterprising students and graduates may join the University’s new Enterprise and Innovation Centre—a ‘business-to-business-to-university’ facility for new start-ups, SMEs and corporates, and based on open innovation principles.
3. BioPark, University of Hertfordshire – When Roche Pharmaceuticals closed its research centre in Welwyn Garden City there were significant job losses. With the support of Roche and the local authorities, and a grant from the Regional Development Agency, the University of Hertfordshire purchased the centre and converted it into BioPark—a facility to accommodate spin-out and spin-in SMEs in the life sciences and health sectors. Managed by a university subsidiary company, Exemplas Ltd, the research centre has since been further modernised and expanded in 2011, with the university and Hertfordshire County Council both investing. BioPark now hosts over 20 companies and the enlarged facility has 80 percent occupancy: growing companies seeking high-quality scientific facilities, often relocating from incubators elsewhere in the Cambridge–London pharma corridor.
4. Siemens – University of Lincoln partnership involves multiple layers across a broad spectrum of activities. A collaborative R&D commissioning framework has generated six times the turnover in the original business plan, with significant business benefits generated for the company and research outcomes for the university, whilst protecting intellectual property and observing commercial sensitivities. Siemans have co-located with Lincoln’s engineering department; engaging in the teaching of students and in providing scholarships, internships and consultancy projects, graduating ‘industry-ready’ students. The Siemens technology needs are reflected in the Lincoln’s engineering undergraduate programmes and the partners have co-designed an MSc Energy Renewables and Power.

Further reading